Macron confirms tapestry loan to UK

France and Britain appear to be enjoying a new Entente Cordiale after French president Emmanuel Macron confirmed the famous Bayeux tapestry would be loaned to Britain in 2022.

By Amit Roy
  • Published 20.01.18
  •  
A scene from the 70m long tapestry

London: France and Britain appear to be enjoying a new Entente Cordiale after French president Emmanuel Macron confirmed the famous Bayeux tapestry would be loaned to Britain in 2022.

Macron, who discussed Brexit, security, refugees and other issues with Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, spoke optimistically about future relations between the countries: "We are in a way making a new tapestry together."

After he was given a ceremonial welcome at Sandhurst, May welcomed Macron's generous offer: "Our shared history is reflected in the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK in 2022, the first time it will be on British soil in more than 900 years. I am honoured at the loan of such a precious piece of our shared history which yet again underscores the closeness of the UK-France relationship."

The foreign secretary Boris Johnson got carried away and even proposed a bridge over troubled waters, physically linking Britain with France. The island's proud history has been shaped by its very isolation and its historically powerful navy.

The Bayeux tapestry is, in fact, an embroidery, 70 metres by 50cm, stitched with 10 shades of woollen yarn.

Over a succession of scenes, it chronicles events leading up to the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror and culminates in the Battle of Hastings and the defeat of Harold in 1066.

Nothing is known for certain about its English origins, with the first written record appearing in the Bayeux Cathedral's inventory of treasures in 1476. Napoleon put it on display in Paris in 1804 and it was briefly exhibited at the Louvre Museum in 1944.

It is currently on display in a darkened room in the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, where the mayor remains sceptical whether such a fragile treasure can be moved safely to Britain.

A fight has already broken out as to where in Britain the tapestry should be displayed.

The most likely venue is the British Museum, whose director Hartwig Fischer said: "This would be a major loan, probably the most significant ever from France to the UK. It is a gesture of extraordinary generosity and proof of the deep ties that link our countries. The Bayeux tapestry is of huge importance, as it recounts a crucial moment in British and French history, 1066."