In April 1904 Great Britain and France signed a series of agreements, the Entente Cordiale, which marked the end of almost a thousand years of conflict between the two nations and their predecessor states.
The French naval visits to Cowes and Portsmouth in the summer of 1905 created a veritable wave of enthusiasm for everything French in Britain. Several of the big London dailies published editions in French during the visit. Over 100 000 people from all over England travelled to Portsmouth in order to see the visiting French naval ships. A Swedish weekly reported that "before the French departed, the sons of John Bull had learnt to sing La Marseillaise with the same éclat that the French seamen sung the British national anthem."
|British and French navy officers listening to the Marseillaise on board the Royal Navy's |
flagship Edward VII. The officer in the middle group with a wide belt is the commander of
the visiting French navy squadron, admiral Caillard.
|French journalists enjoying a sumptuous meal on board a Royal Navy ship together|
with their British hosts. Note the bottles of champagne on the table!
|The "luxury train" which brought the visiting French Navy |
seamen to London.
|French seamen warmly welcomed by the Londoners.|
|A London newspaper boy selling a French edition of a London daily.|
|French navy cadets getting to know young British ladies.|
|Admiral Caillard conversing with an elegant lady.|