France proposed a union with Britain in '56, documents show



The British prime minister rejected the idea.
LONDON (AP) -- Would France have been better off under Queen Elizabeth II?
The revelation that the French government proposed a union of Britain and France in 1956 -- even offering to accept the sovereignty of the British queen -- has left scholars on both sides of the Channel puzzled.
Newly discovered documents in Britain's National Archives show that former French Prime Minister Guy Mollet discussed the possibility of a merger between the two countries with British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden.
"I completely fell off my seat," said Richard Vinen, an expert in French history at King's College in London. "It's such a bizarre thing to propose."
Turned it down
Eden rejected the idea of a union but was more favorable to a French proposal to join the Commonwealth, according to the documents. One document added that Mollet "had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth II]."
Threatened by an Arab revolt in French Algeria and hobbled by instability at home, France was desperate to maintain its independence from both the Soviet Union and the United States, said Kevin Ruane, a historian at Canterbury Christ Church University, England.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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