King Charles’ Visit to France Postponed After Pension Protests


According to Downing Street, King Charles III’s state visit to France has been postponed due to President Emmanuel Macron’s request.

As unions announced a day of pension protests during the visit, the French president remarked, “We would not be serious and would lack common sense” if he went ahead.

The vacation to Paris and Bordeaux was supposed to start on Sunday.

However, both cities were engulfed in violence on Thursday, some of the worst since the protests began in January.

The decision to postpone Charles III’s and Camilla’s three-day visit was made owing to the “situation in France,” according to Buckingham Palace.

“Their Majesties greatly look forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found,” the statement added.

Speaking at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, President Macron said that from the moment on Thursday night when the unions announced another day of action for Tuesday, two days into the state visit, he felt it would be inappropriate for the King and Camilla to travel.

“As we have considerable friendship, respect and esteem for His Majesty and the Queen Consort and the British people, I took the initiative this morning to call [the King] and explain the situation… Common sense and friendship pushed us to propose a postponement.”

The decision was made “with the cooperation of all stakeholders,” according to the UK government. Mr. Macron stated that France has proposed rescheduling the trip for early June.

The judgment is a major setback for France and President Macron. This was supposed to be a showcase for France, showing the new monarch to the finest of French life and solidifying a newly rekindled friendship.

But, the protests rendered the journey difficult. Several French cities saw violence on the fringes of Thursday’s mostly peaceful demonstrations, which drew over a million people.

The entryway to Bordeaux’s town hall was set on fire. Tear gas was fired in the capital, and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said 903 fires were started in a city where waste has gone uncollected since March 6.

For most of Friday morning, French officials tried to convince the public that the state visit would take place and that security would be in place. Several journalists from the United Kingdom had already traveled to Paris to cover the event.

This was the King’s first state visit, and it was to one of the UK’s closest and longest allies.

The King and Camilla were scheduled to ride along the Champs-Elysées in the heart of Paris and have a banquet with President Macron at Versailles.

Camilla was scheduled to open an art exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, one of Paris’s most popular attractions. They were then supposed to travel to Bordeaux.

But, every step of the tour was threatened by demonstrations, and it eventually became impossible. Even those who lay down the red carpets were organizing a walkout.

Mr Darmanin, the Interior Minister, stated earlier on Friday that there were “no known threats” to the King. Bordeaux Mayor Pierre Hurmic stated that the visit to his city had been modified so that it “may go under the best protection, without exposing the King to the least difficulty.”

Faced with the prospect of leading the King through trash- and graffiti-strewn streets, with every public appearance surrounded by security and every movement threatened by strikes, the French president made the obvious decision.

Although the decision was made in collaboration with the UK government, he was the one under pressure.

The trip to Bordeaux, which was supposed to focus on organic vineyards, went down in flames. The visit was supposed to include a stop at the town hall, which was set on fire on Thursday.

Domestically, the president would have suffered as a result of the image. Eating with a king in Versailles would have been shockingly inappropriate and could have played into the hands of his enemies far too directly.

President Macron tried to galvanize demonstrators in a TV interview on the eve of Thursday’s national action, when he portrayed the government’s reforms as an economic imperative, indicating he was willing to endure the resultant unpopularity.

His government decided on Monday to force through the reforms, which raise the pension age from 62 to 64 and extend contributions by workers to 43 years.

As the president and prime minister realised they would struggle to pass the law in the National Assembly, they resorted to a constitutional power to bypass a vote.

“I listened to Macron yesterday and it was as if someone was spitting in our face,” said Adèle, a 19-year-old law student in Nanterre. “For this pension reform, there is another way and if he doesn’t do that, it’s because he’s not listening to the people. There’s a clear lack of democracy,” she told the BBC.

While President Macron will be humiliated by the postponement, King Charles will be disappointed.

State visits are made on the recommendation of the government, and all of the underlying information had indicated that this was a significant diplomatic statement about repairing connections with European neighbors.

On Wednesday, the King and Camilla were scheduled to travel from France to Germany. Instead, Charles’ first state visit will begin in Berlin.

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