Emma Beddington’s article (I am finally French, after years of longing, 15 January) reminds me of my romantic 20-year-old self before I came to actually live and work in France in 1991. Thirty-two years later, the romance has pretty much gone out the fenêtre.
As a French civil servant since 1996, it took me more than two years to obtain the French nationality that I was obliged to apply for due to Brexit. My employer, the French government, stated at the time that British nationals would lose their civil servant status, and tenure, once Brexit passed. I spent a terrible six months thinking I may have to uproot to the UK with my teenage (French) children, and be forced to start a new life aged 50.
My application for nationality had stagnated because I didn’t have an official certificate to prove I could speak French (I have a French master’s degree, and I lecture, often in French, at university). Out of desperation, I called in a favour from an acquaintance at the prefecture and finally managed to get fast-tracked by a few precious weeks. I eventually obtained French nationality just in time for Brexit, but the whole process left a bitter taste.
I couldn’t help thinking that the 2,000 or so of us British French civil servants had been held hostage in a very petty and somewhat punitive act of Brexit tit-for-tat. I may have forgiven all if we’d been served champagne and Pringles at the ceremony, but all we got was juice and peanuts from Carrefour.