The tapestry’s loan was first announced by French President Emmanuel Macron in January, and was officially sealed last week in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by former UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock and his French counterpart.
The deal includes an agreement to translate the tapestry into English for the first time, and to digitise the artefact with the help of British and French universities.
The tapestry was created in the late 11th century to depict the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Many historians believe it to have been woven by nuns in Canterbury after being commissioned by William the Conqueror’s half brother, although its exact origins are disputed.
Hancock said: “The Bayeux Tapestry is a world treasure and a symbol of the deep ties between Britain and France.”
He added that the agreement “underlines the ongoing commitment from both nations for greater cultural, digital and scientific collaboration now and into the future”.
The gallery in which the 70-metre long tapestry will be displayed has not been confirmed. The British Museum and the V&A in London are seen as the frontrunners to secure the exhibit, and both galleries have publicly stated their desire to do so.
The Bayeux Museum in Normandy, where the tapestry has been on permanent display, will undergo re-development during the loan. The museum has insisted that the artefact be returned by spring of 2024, in time for its reopening.
Britain has seen previous attempts to secure a loan of the tapestry, for the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and for the 900-year anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1966, rejected.