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British King Charles postpones visit to France amid pension protests

Firefighters checks rubbish after extinguishing a fire during a demonstration in Paris on Thursday.  (Stefano Rellandini/AFP via Getty ImagesTNS )
PA Media/dpa

German Press Agency

LONDON – British King Charles’ state visit to France has been postponed amid 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 Macron had asked the British Government to postpone the trip. It is understood new dates for the visit will be confirmed shortly and Buckingham Palace said the King and Queen Consort “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 in the planning by the UK and host nations for months, and is aimed at strengthening ties between Britain and its continental neighbours.

It is understood the trip to Berlin, which will now be the first state visit of the King’s reign, will proceed as planned between March 29 and 31.

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.”

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 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 labor 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.