In 1558, Calais was the last English possession in Europe; it was reclaimed by the French Duke of Guise. When the news of the loss reached Queen Mary 1, she exclaimed “When I am dead and opened, you will find Calais written on my heart’.
For some years (since 2003), France and the UK have had the ‘Treaty of Le Touquet’; formally known as the Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the French Republic concerning the implementation of frontier controls at sea ports of both countries on the Channel and North Sea. Effectively this means that we pass through British immigration controls at Calais Ferry port and French immigration controls at Dover. We have had a little bit of Britain in Calais, a little bit of France in Dover.
last year more than one million migrants – many fleeing the civil war in Syria – arrived in Europe. The Calais camp is just part of a Europe-wide migrant crisis. They are not allowed by the French immigration controls to board the channel ferries, and they wait in makeshift accommodation outside Calais. This has been called the Calais Jungle.
On 24th October 2016, French authorities began to clear the ‘Calais Jungle’. The people involved – the authorities and the migrants housed there may also, like Mary, have Calais written on their hearts.