March 5. 2024. 12:48

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King Charles III’s France visit may face disruptions


The British Monarch’s planned visit to France this weekend may face disruptions, trade unionists and left-wing politicians have said, as security concerns have already led to the government reportedly considering a new location for a state dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla are due to visit Paris from 26 to 29 March, then after Bordeaux, in the monarch’s first visit abroad since becoming king.

His trip, which has been in the planning phase for months, comes as France faces a major political crisis and mass nationwide protests after President Emmanuel Macron pushed through his pension reform without a National Assembly vote.

The king’s reception may also be lacking flags, red carpets and furniture for public buildings as the French trade union CGT announced this week that its members at Mobilier National would not help with preparations for the reception, The Guardian reported.

The Daily Mail reported that Buckingham Palace is closely monitoring the situation in France, while several French media reported that the UK government was “not aware of any change in plans”.

In France, Paris police prefect Laurent Nunez, who is in charge of security in the capital, said he was “very serene” ahead of the visit.

Protests and disruptions are expected to continue during the weekend after a week of spontaneous demonstrations that led to clashes with police and disruptions throughout the country.

“We will continue to mobilise [against the reform], and this visit will be in our sights,” Mathieu Obry of the CGT union and Yvan Fort of the FO union said in the columns of Sud-Ouest earlier this week.

In Bordeaux, “it is almost certain that the King will not be able to take the tramway” – an activity initially planned for Charles III – said Pascal Mesgueni, CFTC delegate of the city’s transport company TBM.

During his other trips, more or less spontaneous gatherings are also expected – at the Arc de Triomphe, for example, or around the Palace of Versailles where French kings resided before the French Revolution of 1789.

“Unbelievable, we’re going to have Emmanuel Macron, the republican monarch, who is going to receive Charles III, who is going to walk down the Champs-Élysées, who is going to go to dinner in Versailles, while the people in the street are demonstrating,” Green leader Sandrine Rousseau told BFMTV on Wednesday.

While it has not been confirmed at the time of publishing this article, French authorities are reportedly considering moving the state dinner from Versailles to the president’s official residence at the Élysée Palace.

EURACTIV reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment on King Charles III’s trip but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

(Davide Basso | EURACTIV.fr)