A state visit by King Charles of Britain to France has been postponed amid widespread protests over president Emmanuel Macron’s retirement age reforms.
The French Presidency confirmed the postponement of what would have been the first state visit of the King’s reign and Downing Street later said Mr Macron had asked the British government to defer the trip.
It is understood that new dates for the visit will be confirmed shortly and Buckingham Palace said the King and Queen Consort Camilla “greatly look forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found”.
The trip, which was to begin on Sunday and be followed by a state visit to Germany, had been planned by the UK and host nations for months, and is aimed at strengthening ties between Britain and its continental neighbours.
It is understood a trip to Berlin, which will now be the first state visit of the King’s reign, will proceed as planned between March 29th and 31st.
A UK government spokesperson said: “The King and Queen Consort’s state visit to France has been postponed. This decision was taken with the consent of all parties, after the President of France asked the British Government to postpone the visit.”
[ Lara Marlowe: Move highlights Macron’s inability to control events in his own country ]
In a statement, the Elysee Palace said: “In light of yesterday’s announcement of a new national day of action against pension reforms on Tuesday, March 28 in France, the visit of King Charles III, originally scheduled for March 26 to 29 in our country, will be postponed.
“This decision was taken by the French and British governments, after a telephone exchange between the President of the Republic and the King this morning, in order to be able to welcome His Majesty King Charles III in conditions that correspond to our friendly relationship. This state visit will be rescheduled as soon as possible.”
Tens of thousands of mainly peaceful demonstrators took to the streets of Paris on Thursday – the ninth day of nationwide protests – but violence erupted when French police clashed with black-clad, masked groups who targeted at least two fast food restaurants, a supermarket and a bank.
It is understood the trip’s logistics had been under review for some days and measures were being considered to reduce interactions with the public.
President Macron is facing renewed public anger for pushing through a bill raising the retirement age to 64 without a vote in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament.
French labour union CGT union announced this week that its members at Mobilier National, the institution in charge of providing flags, red carpets and furniture for public buildings, would not help prepare a Sunday reception for the king upon his arrival in Paris. - Reuters
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023