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After 950 years, France to lend Bayeux Tapestry to Britain

Mychele Daniau, AFP | Visitors observe the Bayeux Tapestry in a museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France.

The Bayeux Tapestry is set to be displayed in Britain after France agreed in principle to the historic artwork leaving the country for the first time in 950 years, UK media say.

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French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce the proposed loan of the tapestry during a visit to the UK for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday, according to The Times.

The BBC and The Guardian also reported the proposed loan.

The artwork, which is 70 metres long and 50 centimetres high, depicts the invasion of England by Duke William of Normandy, better known as William the Conqueror, and his victory over the Anglo-Saxon King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The tapestry is thought to have been created shortly after the battle. It is currently on display in Bayeux, in Normandy.

Some historians argue it was made in Kent, England, a debate that is set to reignite following the announcement.

Preparations for the relocation are underway following months of discussions between cultural officials in both countries, but the move is contingent on tests showing the 11th-century embroidery can be moved safely, The Times said.

It could be five years before the tapestry actually arrives on British shores, the paper said. No decision has been made about where it would be displayed during the loan, it added, citing British officials.

There have been previous unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a loan of the embroidery to the UK: once for the Queen’s coronation in 1953, and in 1966 for the 900-year anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

The tapestry was displayed in Paris in 1804 at a time when Napoleon was mulling an invasion of Britain, and again briefly at the Louvre in 1945.

President Macron will hold talks with May at a Britain-France summit at Sandhurst, a British military academy, later this week, with co-operation on various issues set to be discussed.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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