Prince William tells French people Brexit won't hurt friendship during Paris visit

PARIS (Reuters) - Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate were greeted by French President Francois Hollande as they began a two-day trip to Paris aimed at highlighting strong Franco-British ties despite Britain's looming exit from the European Union.

It is William's first official visit to Paris since his mother, Princess Diana, was killed when the limousine carrying her and her lover Dodi al-Fayed crashed in a Paris tunnel in August 1997.

A smiling William and Kate stood on either side of Hollande as he welcomed them on their first visit to the Elysee palace, where they discussed the Syrian conflict and the fight against terrorism as well as Franco-British relations, according to a French presidential source.

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Prince William and Duchess Kate first visit to Paris
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Prince William and Duchess Kate first visit to Paris
French President Francois Hollande accompanies Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William as they leave after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Anne Llewellyn with U.K. ambassador to France Edward Llewellyn and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend a dinner at the British Embassy on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Laurent Vu/SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, UK ambassador to France Lord Ed Llewellyn and his wife Anne arrive for a dinner at the British embassy in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke Of Cambridge attend a dinner hosted by Her Majesty's Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, at the British Embassy in Paris, as part of their official visit to the French capital on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Fanny Trang / British Embassy Paris - Pool / Getty Images)
British Ambassador Edward Llewellyn (2nd R) and his wife talk with Britain's Prince William (2nd L), the Duke of Cambridge, and Kate (L), the Duchess of Cambridge, before a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and UK ambassador to France Lord Ed Llewellyn's wife Anne listen as Prince William (unseen) delivers his seepch during a reception dubbed "Les Voisins" (The Neighbours) honouring Franco-British relations at the British embassy in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/ Pool
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 18: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a visit at the hotel des invalides on March 18, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William arrive for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool
Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William are welcomed by General Bertrand Ract Madoux, Governor of Invalides, (L) as they arrive for a visit at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, France, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
French President Francois Hollande welcomes Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William as they arrive for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French President Francois Hollande accompanies Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William as they visit the gardens during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool
PARIS, PARIS - MARCH 17: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS) Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend a reception at the British Embassy on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 18: President of the museum Laurence Des Cars shows Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge around at Musee d'Orsay during an official two-day visit to Paris on March 18, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
French President Francois Hollande welcomes Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William as they arrive for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge look through the clock at Musee d'Orsay during an official two-day visit to Paris on March 18, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge with Anne Llewellyn and U.K. ambassador to France Edward Llewellyn attend a dinner at the British Embassy on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Laurent Vu/SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
PARIS, PARIS - MARCH 17: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS) Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend a reception at the British Embassy on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE ? MARCH 17: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a meeting with French President Fran�is Hollande at the Elysee Palace during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Antoine Gyori /Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 18: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet with members of a rugby team near the Eiffel Tower on March 18, 2017 in Paris, France. The Duke and Duchess are on a two day tour of France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit Les Invalides military hospital where they met some victims of the terror attack on the Bataclan theatre in 2015 during an official two-day visit to Paris on March 18, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Rooke-Pool/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit Les Invalides military hospital during an official two-day visit to Paris on March 18, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Rooke-Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L) and his wife Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge (R) meet with people near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on March 18, 2017. Britain's Prince William pledged on the eve that his country will retain close links with France despite Brexit, as he and his wife Kate began a two-day visit to Paris. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Michel Euler (Photo credit should read MICHEL EULER/AFP/Getty Images)
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Noting strong links between the two countries, William told a reception later: "This partnership will continue despite Britain's recent decision to leave the European Union. The depth of our friendship and the breadth of our cooperation will not change."

After last June's vote to leave the EU, Britain is about to embark on two years of difficult exit negotiations on whose outcome EU founder member France will have a strong influence.

William, second-in-line to the British throne, has been criticized by some British newspapers this week for going skiing and dancing with friends in the Swiss Alps, missing a service at London's Westminster Abbey attended by other members of the royal family.

The reports revived media criticism that the prince, 34, spends too much time enjoying the high life while shirking official tasks. In an interview last year, he said he was aware of the criticism and willing to take on more royal duties.

On Saturday, the royal couple are due to meet people hurt in a truck attack that killed 86 people in Nice last July and coordinated attacks in Paris in November 2015 when 130 people died. All were claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

They will also watch a France-Wales rugby match.

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Duchess Kate wears 3 outfits on St. Patrick's Day
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Duchess Kate wears 3 outfits on St. Patrick's Day
Britain's Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. British royals William and Kate arrived in Paris today in the prince's first official visit to the French capital since his mother died there. During the two-day trip, the couple will meet survivors of the 2015 terror attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris as well as President Francois Hollande. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, arrives for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. arrives for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. British royals William and Kate arrived in Paris today in the prince's first official visit to the French capital since his mother died there. During the two-day trip, the couple will meet survivors of the 2015 terror attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris as well as President Francois Hollande. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. British royals William and Kate arrived in Paris today in the prince's first official visit to the French capital since his mother died there. During the two-day trip, the couple will meet survivors of the 2015 terror attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris as well as President Francois Hollande. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. British royals William and Kate arrived in Paris today in the prince's first official visit to the French capital since his mother died there. During the two-day trip, the couple will meet survivors of the 2015 terror attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris as well as President Francois Hollande. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (R), The Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Kate (2nd R), the Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a diner at the British Embassy in Paris on March 17, 2017. British royals William and Kate arrived in Paris today in the prince's first official visit to the French capital since his mother died there. During the two-day trip, the couple will meet survivors of the 2015 terror attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris as well as President Francois Hollande. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception at the British Embassy during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception at the British Embassy during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William speak with UK ambassador to France Lord Ed Llewellyn (unseen) and his wife Anne (L) as they arrive for a reception at the British embassy in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/ Pool
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge and Anne Llewellyn attend a reception at the British Embassy during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception at the British Embassy during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William speak with UK ambassador to France Lord Ed Llewellyn (2ndL) and his wife Anne (L) as they arrive for a reception at the British embassy in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/ Pool
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17 : Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17 : Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images)
French President Francois Hollande accompanies Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William as they visit the gardens during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool
French President Francois Hollande accompanies Britain's Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William as they visit the gardens during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the annual Irish Guards St Patrick's Day Parade at Household Cavalry Barracks on March 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (L) and his wife Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the Irish Guards during a St Patrick's Day parade at Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, west London on March 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Adrian Croft; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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