France Wouldn't Loan This to Queen in 1953. Now, a Change

Bayeux Tapestry is expected to be loaned to the UK
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2018 8:21 AM CST
After 900 Years, a Storied Tapestry May Leave Its Home
This undated image provided by the Mairie de Bayeux (Bayeux city hall), Normandy, France, shows a section from the Bayeux tapestry. French officials are considering loaning the historic 70-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry to Britain for the first time.   (Stephane Maurice/Mairie de Bayeux via AP)

As the story goes, before Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation, Britain asked France if it might borrow the storied Bayeux Tapestry. The answer was no. Heinrich Himmler was also unsuccessful in transferring it to Nazi Germany. The 220-foot-long tapestry, which is on permanent display in Bayeux, France, has not left that country in some 950 years. That looks set to change. Multiple outlets are reporting that upon his arrival in the UK Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron will announce that the tapestry will be loaned to England, though not for a few years and only if tests show the 11th-century tapestry—which details the Norman Conquest of England, complete with King Harold dying with an arrow in his eye—can be safely moved.

There is some speculation that the tapestry was actually created in Kent, England, reports the Guardian, and the Times of London writes the decision to loan it "would be a huge gesture towards les Anglais"—and a fraught one, as bright light, extreme temperatures, humidity, and moths could ruin it. The BBC reports a British museum believes it was commissioned in the 1070s by the half-brother of William the Conqueror; the historical trail doesn't start until 1476, when it appears on an inventory of Bayeux Cathedral. One interesting line of speculation: whether the UK will loan France something equally impressive. One member of parliament suggests temporarily parting with the Rosetta Stone, which was likely uncovered by the French—specifically by soldiers of Napoleon in Egypt. Read more on Harold, England's last Anglo-Saxon king, here. (More England stories.)

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