In 1982 President Mitterrand, playing host to the representatives of the seven wealthiest industrialised countries, ensured the French Fifth Republic’s customary levels of splendour for the first international summit of his mandate. The summit culminated in a grand finale.
The G7 summit was first organised in 1975 by Giscard d’Estaing in Rambouillet. The summit, held every year, brings together the world’s seven richest democratic powers and aims to facilitate direct discussion between heads of state or government on current international problems, outside of the strict and formal framework of international assemblies. It is organised by each country in turn, and in 1982 France hosted the summit in Versailles.
On 4 June President Mitterrand welcomed the foreign delegations in the Grand Trianon, where they were also to be accommodated. Among them were Ronald Reagan for the USA, Margaret Thatcher for Great Britain, Helmut Schmidt for Germany, Giovanni Spadolini for Italy, Pierre Eliott-Trudeau for Canada, and Zenko Suzuki for Japan. The summit was also attended by Wilfried Martens and Gaston Thorn for the EEC (European Economic Community). The reception was followed by a “family photo” beneath the Peristyle. A walk in the gardens gave the participants an opportunity for informal discussion, and the day ended with dinner in the Garden Room.
On 5 June Mitterrand had breakfast with Schmidt before going to the Coronation Chamber where the conference was to be held. The delegates took their seats around a large table decorated with flowers. The topics on the agenda covered East-West and North-South relations; economic difficulties linked with inflation; the growth of world trade; the need for new energy sources; the development of new technologies; the Falklands War; and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Lunch was served in the Gallery of Great Battles. At the end of the afternoon a press conference was held. The delegations returned to Trianon for dinner served in the Garden Room.
The end of the summit was truly spectacular, with dinner in the Hall of Mirrors, a show in the Royal Opera House and a concert in the Royal Chapel. A superb firework display, accompanied by a night-time fountain display, was let off in the gardens, which were lit up for the occasion, to the sound of music played on horseback by the Republican Guard.
Each guest left Versailles the following day in a helicopter, at the end of a summit fit for a king – but, according to some observers, somewhat lacking in concrete solutions.