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- Emmanuel Macron reportedly approved the loan of the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry to Britain.
- The artifact depicts the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066.
- Macron made the gesture ahead of a major meeting with Theresa May.
- The French President has a penchant for grand gifts on the world stage.
Britain will be loaned a famed, priceless piece of art symbolising on of the crucial moments in its history after a grand diplomatic gesture by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron has given the go-ahead for the Bayeux Tapestry to be temporarily put on display in the United Kingdom for the first time since it was woven in the 11th century, according to The Times newspaper.
The 68-metre tapestry is a visual record of the Norman Conquest, the French invasion of England which began with the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and installed William I as king.
It includes a depiction of the old king, Harold II, who took an arrow to the eye during the battle and died.
The death of King Harold, from the Bayeux Tapestry. pic.twitter.com/iQQvauCdLe
— Mactaggart Jewelry (@mactaggartjewel) January 11, 2018
1066 was the last time the British Isles were taken over outright by a hostile invading force (though there were plenty of internal conflicts, and the so-called “Glorious Revolution” in which James II was displaced by William III).
Macron approved the transfer of the tapestry ahead of a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
According to a follow-up story by The Times, it is expected to go on display at the British Museum from 2022, a major coup for the institution.
It’s not clear which institution will host the tapestry either, but it will be a huge prize for whoever gets it.
The two are meeting on Thursday at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, the training centre for Britain’s military officers and many royals and world leaders.
According to The Times, the tapestry gesture could belie more serious aspirations from the talks, which are said to include a hardline French stance on Brexit, demands for Britain to accept more migrants from the Calais refugee camp, and increased UK contributions to border policing.
- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Macron, who has styled himself a more commanding, imperial president that his predecessors, is given to grand gestures in his foreign affairs.
Earlier this month he made headlines by presenting Chinese President Xi Jinping with a horse called Vesuvius.
He also rolled out the red carpet for Donald Trump in July, inviting him to a grand military procession on Bastille Day and treating him to a lobster dinner inside the Eiffel Tower.