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French shrug off uproar over failure to invite Queen to mark D-Day

PARIS - While Britons fumed over a perceived French snub of the Queen, the French responded Thursday to the latest cross-Channel spat with a Gallic shrug.

PARIS - While Britons fumed over a perceived French snub of the Queen, the French responded Thursday to the latest cross-Channel spat with a Gallic shrug.

France failed to invite the Queen to Normandy for next month's 65th anniversary of the Allied landings on D-Day, where U.S. President Barack Obama is being given the starring role.

The diplomatic faux-pas prompted uproar in Britain, which lost thousands at Normandy and across France while helping free the country from the Nazis.

French officials backpedaled Wednesday and said she was welcome to come - but to no avail. The Queen said Thursday she would not attend.

"I don't get it, personally," said Guy Briand, browsing the morning papers on a quiet park bench just off the Champs-Elysees, in the shadow of a bronze memorial statue of a stern Sir Winston Churchill. "If she comes or not, it's her problem."

He and others did not think the government had intentionally snubbed Her Majesty.

"We like the English," said Yannick Lauden, reading a novel outside Paris' Musee des Beaux Arts. He was waiting to enter an exhibition of the works of William Blake, the British romantic poet and painter.

"English culture, in any case," he said, smiling.

Many British visitors to Paris felt less friendly toward the French in the wake of the latest flare-up in a long history of trans-Channel tensions and cross-cultural ribbing.

"It is an offence, really," said Eleni Laws, who had just stepped off the train from London into the Gare du Nord.

"If they did the same thing to the French prime minister, the French would be up in arms and waving their flags, as they do."

"It's typical of the French," said John Halley, searching for the ticket counter at the Paris train station. "And somehow, it's typical of the Queen."

Caieta Hendry, a young law trainee visiting family in Paris, said the French government's gaffe hardly justified the uproar it's caused in Britain.

"Should she be invited? I don't think it's really that important."

John Halley agreed - and said the whole controversy was likely a moot point.

"I don't think she'd have gone," he said. "But she might have sent some sort of prince."

 
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