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The Duchess of Cornwall to visit Paris

Published on 25th April 2013

The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Paris from Monday 27th to Tuesday 28th May 2013 on what will be her first solo official overseas visit. 

Her Royal Highness will be travelling to Paris primarily on behalf of her charity Emmaus UK, which has its roots in France, and of which she has been Patron since 2006.

The charity supports former homeless people by giving them a home within one of the Emmaus Communities, as well as work in one of its social enterprises, to help them get back on their feet and re-build their lives.  Residents of the Communities are known as “Companions” (derived from the French word Compagnon, meaning apprentice).

On 27th May, accompanied by three Companions from Emmaus in the UK, The Duchess of Cornwall will travel by train to Paris and visit two Emmaus Communities to learn more about the origins of the charity and recent developments in social enterprise, and to see what lessons Emmaus UK and its French counterpart - the largest and most renowned arm of the international Emmaus movement - can learn from each other.  

On a visit to one of the oldest Communities, Her Royal Highness and the UK Companions will find out more about the inspirational founder of Emmaus, Abbé Pierre, who started the movement which has continued to spread around the world.  The Duchess will also see how the hugely popular Emmaus shops help make the Communities self-sustaining, and how they are playing a key role in ensuring Emmaus is recognised and supported throughout France. 

The Duchess will also undertake a number of other public engagements in Paris. On 27th May, Her Royal Highness will attend a reception hosted by Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Sir Peter Ricketts, to celebrate British people who have made their mark in France. In addition, the reception will include students and teachers from the University of London Institute in Paris (formerly the Institut Britannique), where Her Royal Highness studied during a six month visit to Paris in 1963.  The Duchess will also be the guest of honour at a small dinner hosted by the Ambassador later that evening.

On 28th May, Her Royal Highness, Patron of British Equestrian Federation, will visit the Garde Républicaine, where she will view an equestrian display and meet members of the Garde and their families. 

The Duchess will also visit a French market, take a tour of the Louvre and visit the workshop of one of the leading French couture houses. 

Notes to Editors

The Duchess of Cornwall has visited Paris on numerous occasions throughout her life, most notably in 1963 when she lived and studied in Paris for six months.

Her Royal Highness made an official visit to Paris and Verdun with HRH The Prince of Wales in November 2008. 

The Duchess has been Patron of Emmaus UK since 2006 and since then she has visited a number of Emmaus Communities including: 

  • December 2006 visit to Emmaus Bristol
  • December 2007 visit to Emmaus South Lambeth
  • December 2008 visit to Emmaus Gloucestershire Nailsworth Shop
  • June 2009 visit to Emmaus Oxford
  • December 2009 visit to Emmaus Coventry & Warwickshire
  • March 2011 visit to Emmaus Gloucestershire
  • May 2011 visit to Emmaus Sheffield
  • December 2011 visit to Emmaus Greenwich 
  • February 2012 visit to Emmaus Cambridge 
  • December 2012 visit to Emmaus Hampshire


The first Emmaus Community was founded in Paris in 1949 by Abbé Pierre in response to the problem of homelessness in the city after the Second World War. Since then Emmaus has developed into a global movement that now has 300 groups based in 36 countries around the world. 

Emmaus UK was founded in 1992 by Selwyn Image, who had met Abbé Pierre in France and was inspired by what Emmaus was doing to support the homeless. 

The first UK Community was set up in Cambridge and remains extremely successful, supporting 28 Companions. A further 23 Communities have since opened up in the UK, meaning Emmaus now offers 580 formerly homeless people a place to live and work.

Despite being one of the most recent countries to join the Emmaus Movement, rapid growth in the UK means it is second only to France in size and scale.

Solidarity is a key part of Emmaus culture and involves the Companions helping to support other people who are less fortunate than themselves. Acts of solidarity can vary from raising money for a charity, to sending donations to other Emmaus Communities in countries around the world where poverty means they struggle to get donations to support their social enterprise.