March 4. 2024. 6:25

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King Charles postpones French state visit due to protests, unrest


King Charles has postponed his state visit to France amid ongoing unrest and protests after President Emmanuel Macron pushed a controversial pension reform through the French parliament without a vote.

The decision to postpone comes after French unions announced plans to continue protests, including CGT (the General Confederation of Labour), whose workers would have been involved in preparing flags, red carpets and furniture for the visit.

The Elysée Palace said on Friday (24 March) that “in view of the announcement [on Thursday evening] of a new day of national action against pension reform in France on 28 March, the visit of King Charles III […] will be postponed”.

The presidential palace said the decision “was taken by the French and British governments” after a call between Macron and King Charles on Friday morning.

This postponement was decided, the presidency of the French republic said, “in order to be able to welcome His Majesty King Charles III in conditions that correspond to our friendly relationship”.

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

The trip, which has been planned for months, comes as France is in the grip of a political crisis and nationwide protests. On Thursday night, Bordeaux town hall was set on fire.

British media reported that Buckingham Palace was following the situation closely. It was also reported that the venue for a state dinner- the Palace of Versailles- was being reconsidered.

“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,” Sandrine Rousseau, leader of France’s Green party, told BFMTV on Wednesday.

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 wrote 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 – said Pascal Mesgueni, CFTC delegate of Bordeaux city’s transport company TBM.

No new date has been given for the state visit, but it “will be rescheduled as soon as possible”.