FRIDAY 18 MAY 2012 THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY OF LONDON
Receiving the Freedom of the City of London
On Wednesday evening this week, we opened the latest of the Brasserie Blanc restaurants on a wonderful site: the Opera Terrace in London's Covent Garden. It was a fantastic evening, which I will blog about very shortly, but it was late and I was exhausted. However, yesterday morning I had a very exciting - and completely different - start to the day.
At 10.30 on Thursday 17 May, in a very traditional and formal ceremony at the beautiful Guildhall in the City of London, I - a lifelong French Republican - swore my allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Here is a little extract of what I had to say:
"I do solemnly declare that I will be good and true to our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second; that I will be obedient to the mayor of this City… that I will know no gatherings nor conspiracies made against the Queen's peace…"
My co-recipient of this magnificent honour was the beautiful actress, Joanna LumleyEveryone - the Lord Mayor of London, the Lord Chamberlain, and all the other officials of this ancient City of ours, made this a hugely enjoyable occasion: quaint and so wonderfully British. It seems to me that Britain is capable of keeping tradition alive and well, woven into the fabric of a modern and exciting city.
And so here I am again, benefiting from so many of the traditions and cultures of my adopted country, all of which go to make me a better Frenchman. And thank you to all of you who have contributed to this.
It was a very timely honour for me: for the last 40 years, I have "camped" in the countryside, with Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and the ten Brasseries Blancs located in provincial towns across Britain. But now, Brasserie Blanc has bought eight wonderful sites in London - the Opera Terrace among them. So this will certainly draw me back to London more often, and I shall have to become a "Londoner": so I shall be taking my oath very seriously as I do my bit to honour Queen and Country.
I'm sure, however, that the British being so fair, you will understand that I still have my allegiance to ma belle France!
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