King Charles III's European state visit hits French hurdle
FILE - Britain's Prince Charles welcomes French president Emmanuel Macron, left, to Clarence House in London, Thursday June 18, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron’s office on Friday, March 24, 2023, said a state visit by Britain’s King Charles III has been postponed amid mass strikes and protests in France. The king had been scheduled to arrive in France on Sunday on his first state visit as monarch, before heading to Germany on Wednesday. (Jonathan Brady/Pool via AP, File)
Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Published Friday, March 24, 2023 8:40AM EDT
LONDON (AP) — King Charles III’s state visit to France has been postponed indefinitely amid widespread protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms, putting a damper on the new monarch’s debut on the international stage.
Charles and his wife, Camilla, will still travel to Germany on Wednesday in what was scheduled to be the second leg of his first overseas trip since ascending the throne in September.
The original six-day visit to France and Germany, the two biggest countries in the European Union, was designed to highlight efforts to rebuild relations between Britain and its neighbors after six years of squabbling over Brexit. But the prospect of Charles being confronted by protesters and piles of garbage in the streets of Paris forced officials in France and Britain to rethink their plans.
“The king and queen consort’s state visit to France has been postponed,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said in a statement. “This decision was taken with the consent of all parties, after the president of France asked the British government to postpone the visit.”
Buckingham Palace said another date would be found.
“Their Majesties greatly look forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found,'' the palace said in a statement.
French labor unions have called for a day of nationwide protests and strikes on Tuesday in protest at Macron's proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. That is the day when the king had been due to travel to the western city of Bordeaux, with much ceremony and the high levels of security, and the protests would have complicated his travel.
Charles and Camilla will now start their first state visit on Wednesday in Germany, where they will be welcomed with military honors by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.
On Thursday, the British king is set to give a speech to the Bundestag, meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and talk to Ukrainian refugees and military.
He goes to Hamburg on Friday, where he will visit the Kindertransport memorial for Jewish children who fled from Germany to Britain during the Third Reich, and attend a green energy event before returning to the UK in the evening.