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Posted: March 17, 2017

British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms

French President Francois Hollande, center, waves as he welcomes Prince William with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday March 17, 2017. Prince William and his wife Kate are coming to Paris to meet the French president as Britain gets ready to launch divorce proceedings from the European Union. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French President Francois Hollande, center, waves as he welcomes Prince William with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday March 17, 2017. Prince William and his wife Kate are coming to Paris to meet the French president as Britain gets ready to launch divorce proceedings from the European Union. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
France's President Francois Hollande, right, poses with Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, March 17, 2017. Prince William and his wife Kate are coming to Paris to meet the French president as Britain gets ready to launch divorce proceedings from the European Union.

            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the Elysee Palace after their meeting with France's President Francois Hollande, in Paris, Friday, March 17, 2017. Prince William and his wife Kate are coming to Paris to meet the French president as Britain gets ready to launch divorce proceedings from the European Union.

            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
France's President Francois Hollande, right, talks with Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, March 17, 2017. Prince William and his wife Kate are coming to Paris to meet the French president as Britain gets ready to launch divorce proceedings from the European Union.

            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
Britain's Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, smiles after she presenting a shamrock to Domnhall the Irish Wolfhound Mascot, at the St. Patrick's Day Parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London, Friday, March 17, 2017. Their Royal Highnesses visited to present shamrocks to the Officers and Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
Britain's Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, laughs as she presents shamrocks to with Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards at the St. Patrick's Day Parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London, Friday, March 17, 2017. Their Royal Highnesses visited to present shamrocks to the Officers and Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
Britain's Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, left, and Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards meet soldiers and their families at the St. Patrick's Day Parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London, Friday, March 17, 2017. Their Royal Highnesses visited to present shamrocks to the Officers and Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

            British royals William and Kate visit Paris as Brexit looms
Britain's Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge, laughs as she presents shamrocks with Britain's Prince William, Colonel of the Irish Guards, left, at the St. Patrick's Day Parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London, Friday, March 17, 2017. Prince William and his wife Kate visited to present shamrocks to the Officers and Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

The Associated Press

PARIS —

With Britain's departure from the European Union looming, Prince William and his wife, Kate, kicked off a two-day visit to Paris Friday by meeting French president Francois Hollande. The trip is William's first official visit to the city since his mother died there.

Hollande greeted the couple Friday afternoon in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace.

They discussed the French-British relationship in the context of Britain's forthcoming departure from the European Union. They also talked about the military operation against the Islamic State group in Syria, in which the two countries are allied, the French presidency said.

On Saturday, the couple was scheduled to meet with victims and first responders from the deadly 2015 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other Paris sites. They also plan to attend a France-Wales rugby match.

While the royal couple has visited France several times, it was William's first official visit to Paris since his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a 1997 car accident.

The visit comes amid anxiety across Europe over Britain's departure from the European Union. By the end of the month, British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger the two-year process that would take Britain out of the EU.

In a speech Friday at the British Embassy, Prince William said the "deep friendship between the United Kingdom and France, forged in sweat and blood, is one that will endure."

"This partnership will continue despite Britain's recent decision to leave the European Union," he said. "The depth of our friendship and the breadth of our cooperation will not change."

Before Kate and William headed to France on Friday, the royal couple met the families of soldiers at a St. Patrick's Day Parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, London, and presented shamrocks to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

The visit doesn't include any official memorial events for Diana. Near the tunnel under the Alma bridge, where the car accident took place, tourists paid tribute to her, leaving flowers and photos.

Nicolas Herrera, 20, a Colombian studying in Paris, thinks Diana continues to be an object of affection for people around the world because she was "different."

"She was part of the royal family, part of people from the important world, but she was near the real people," Herrera said. "She was more close to poor people."

Nina Abboud, an American tourist from Missouri, said people still mention Diana as an example of leadership and generosity.

"So I think she definitely influenced and it was positive and has been for all these 20 years," Abboud said. "You've never heard more about her."

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Milos Krivokapic contributed to the story.


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