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Richard Branson meets Queen in city of violets


April 7, 2004
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Despite the inclement weather, Queen Elizabeth was met by a warm welcome when she took to the streets of Toulouse. Her Majesty wore a purple outfit and carried a posy of violets, as she met students in the city which is famous for the flowers.

The monarch's walkabout came on the final day of a visit to France to mark 100 years of the Entente Cordiale. Later in the day she paid a visit to a Virgin Airways hangar outside the city, where she named a new plane for ubiquitous entrepreneur Richard Branson.

"It is fitting that my visit to France should end with this impressive example of Franco-British and European cooperation," she said. "I am delighted in this Entente Cordiale centenary year to name this new airbus for Virgin Atlantic Airways – the Queen Of The Skies."

Sir Richard said it was an "incredible honour" to have one of his planes named by the Queen, though he had some trouble matching his guest's linguistic skills. "I'm not as good as Her Majesty," he admitted, after struggling to say a few words in French.

The 77-year-old royal meanwhile demonstrated a perfect command of the language when she thanked President Jacques Chirac and the people of France for making her visit so pleasant. "The warmth of your welcome will live long in our memories," she said.

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Photo: © Alphapress.com
Her Majesty donned a purple outfit and matching hat for her day in the city of violets. The monarch said the warm hospitality she had enjoyed would "live long in our memory"Photo: © AFP
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Richard Branson greets the Queen; she later helped name the most recent addition to the British entrepreneur's fleet of planesPhoto: © AFP

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