King Charles’ first official state visit as monarch has been derailed due to mass strikes and protests across France. It will be postponed to a later date, according to the office of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Whether it was societal pressure or fears that the ongoing pension reform protests, which took a violent turn with an arson attack on the city hall of Bordeaux, a planned stop on the tour, the result is the same.
Following a reported private telephone conversation between Macron and King Charles, the rather drastic step of postponing the visit was made on the morning of Friday 24th March, just two days before the 74-year-old monarch was due to travel to France.
Pension reform protestors were particularly irked by plans to host a banquet at the former royal palace of Versailles, calling it out of touch with current sentiments felt across France. Another problem arose when CGT union members at the Mobilier National, an institution responsible for providing flags and furniture at public occasions, outright refused to provide any assistance in the preparations for the visit, including the red carpet expected.
A statement from the Palais de l’Élysée, Macron’s official residence, said the visit would be rescheduled “as soon as possible” and “in conditions that correspond our friendly relations”.
The visit had been touted as a chance for the UK and France to renew ties following recent years of tension in the run-up to and wake of Brexit.
Photo: Official portrait of King Charles III