Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Wales Online
Wales Online
Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent & Shane Jarvis

King Charles urged to cancel France visit as retirement age protests turn violent

The King’s first state visit of his reign may be disrupted by the threat of French protests over Emmanuel Macron’s retirement age reforms. A lavish banquet at the Palace of Versailles hosted by the President could be moved or even cancelled, according to reports.

Union representatives of French workers responsible for ceremonial trappings, like red carpets, have said its members would not prepare a welcome for the King and Queen Consort when they arrive on Sunday. “It’s very bad timing. Normally the French would welcome a British king. But in this moment, people protesting are on high alert for any sign of privilege and wealth,” said Paris-based royal writer Stephen Clarke.

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 royal visit's logistics had been under review for some days but any security considerations could reduce any royal walkabout and lessen the impact of the visit, aimed at strengthening ties between the UK and its neighbour.

Protesters at Place de la Bastille in Paris (PA)

The trip, to be followed by a state visit to Germany, has been planned for months, and its timing was seen as fortuitous as it came just after the UK’s relations with Brussels began to ease following the Windsor framework, the new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. The King and his wife will travel to Paris this weekend then visit Berlin from March 29 to 31.

Mr 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. With uncollected garbage lining the French capital’s boulevards, observers say the optics could not be worse – for both Charles and his host.

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. The Elysee Palace, the French president’s official residence, said non-striking workers would set up the necessary accoutrements for the trip.

Some opponents accuse the president of being out-of-touch, and Charles has come in for similar criticism. Calling for the King to cancel his visit, Sandrine Rousseau, a politician from France’s Green Party, told French TV: “Unbelievable. We are going to have Emmanuel Macron, the Republican monarch, welcoming King Charles III in Versailles while the people in the street are demonstrating.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said any alterations to the visit would be a decision for the King and French president. "I’m not aware of any plans to change the plan, but it’s very much a question for them,” he said.

Subscribe here for the latest news where you live

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin, visiting police headquarters on Thursday night as fires still burned in some Paris neighbourhoods, gave assurances that security “poses no problem” and said Charles would be “welcomed and welcomed well”.

During the visit, the royal couple are scheduled to lay a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe, take part in a procession along the Champs Elysees, and open the new Manet and Degas exhibition at the Musee d’Orsay, while Charles would give an address from the senate chamber.

Peaceful protests turn ugly as police fire tear gas and violence breaks out in the capital (PA)

The King and Queen Consort will also visit Bordeaux, centre of the wine-growing region and home to many British residents, where they will visit an organic vineyard and Charles will meet emergency workers who tackled wildfires on the outskirts of the city last summer. However, Bordeaux has also been the scene of considerable unrest — during demonstrations there, the front door of Bordeaux city hall was set on fire.

Buckingham Palace have declined to comment.

For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.