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King Charles postpones France visit amid mass strikes

March 24, 2023

Continued mass strikes and protest action have forced King Charles to postpone his planned visit to France on Sunday. It would have been his first official trip as king.

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King Charles III
Charles, who became king at the age of 73, has had to postpone his visit due to protests over pension reformsImage: Aaron Chown/Pool PA/AP/dpa/picture alliance

A planned state visit by recently crowned King Charles III to France has been postponed amid ongoing pension reform protests, the French presidency said on Friday.

The decision was taken following a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and the King himself.

Charles, who only ascended the British throne last September, was set to arrive in France on Sunday before heading on to Germany, in what would have been his first official trip as King.

The plan to visit Germany from Wednesday to Friday will go ahead as planned, Buckingham Palace said.

What the Elysee Palace said

"This decision was taken by the French and British governments after a telephone conversation between the president and the king this morning," Macron's office said in a statement. "This state visit will be reorganized as soon as possible."

"Given the announcement yesterday of another national day of protests against pension reform on Tuesday March 28, the visit of Charles III, initially scheduled from 26-28 March, has been postponed," it added.

The decision was "in order to be able to welcome His Majesty King III in conditions which reflect our friendly relations." 

The news comes as millions of people in France continue to take part in mass protests and strikes against a law that will set back the retirement age by two years.

Protests, strikes as France unrest continues

Charles and Queen Consort Camilla "greatly look forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found," a statement from Buckingham Palace said.

Thousands of police mobilized

Protest action in France has shown no signs of abating, with over a million people taking to the streets on Thursday and the French government saying that further protests and strike action were planned for Tuesday.

Macron said on Friday he would press ahead with reforms regardless of the protests.

"We will continue to move forward. France cannot be at a standstill," he said. "We will yield nothing to violence, I condemn violence with the utmost strength."

France's constitutional council is due to review the law's legality as a next step in the process of it becoming ratified.

France hit by protests, strikes over pension reforms

Earlier on Friday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had announced the mobilization of 4,000 gendarme officers for the king's visit.

The king had been planning to take a train ride to Bordeaux, where he wanted to meet with an organic winemaker. On Thursday night, protesters in Bordeaux set fire to the door of the town hall.

ab/rc (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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