French protesters, trade unionists and politicians today vowed to disrupt King Charles’s state visit to Paris and Bordeaux with strikes and protests next week.
They are furious that the British monarch and the Queen Consort will be in the republic during a period of intense social turmoil caused by President Emmanuel Macron raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.
Planned demonstrations against the British Royals already include drivers refusing to operate a tram they were set to use during their visit.
Protesters said they would target a banquet at Versailles, and also a trip to the South West city of Bordeaux, during the state visit, set to run from Sunday (March 26) to Wednesday (March 29).
Referring to Charles, Left-wing firebrand Olivier Besancenot said: ‘We are going to welcome him with a good old general strike.’ Besancenot, a former presidential candidate, added: ‘We are engaged in a battle, there will be a winner and a loser.’
French trade unionists and politicians today pledged to disrupt King Charles’s state visit to Paris and Bordeaux with strikes and protests. Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort (pictured together on Christmas Day) are set to arrive in France on Sunday
Protesters are furious that the British monarch and the Queen Consort will be in the republic during a period of intense social turmoil caused by President Emmanuel Macron raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote. Pictured: Riot police march through the streets against demonstrations in Paris on Saturday
Planned demonstrations against the British Royals already include drivers refusing to operate a tram they were set to use during their visit in Bordeaux (pictured on Saturday)
Charles and Camilla are due to arrive Saint-Jean station in Bordeaux at 12pm on Tuesday (March 28), before taking a tram into the city centre, but this mode of transport now looks likely to be abandoned.
‘It’s almost certain that the King will not be able to take the tram,’ said Pascal Mesgueni, of the powerful CFTC (French Confederation of Christian Workers) union, who said to take the tram would be a ‘huge risk’ for the royal visitors.
‘This is a grassroots request. No driver will want to drive it, and there will be no supervisors or managers – just protesters on the track,’ he said. ‘And the tram will be blocked by vehicles infront and behind. The logistics will be a huge risk.’
Mr Mesgueni told Sud Ouest (South West) newspaper: ‘And don’t forget the risk of projectiles. It’s going to be way too complicated.’
Mr Macron has shown himself to be a supporter of British Royalty, and was much praised in Britain for his emotional tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death.
However, he is currently being described as a ‘republican monarch’ in his own country, where there have been five nights of rioting since he forced his pension reform through despite huge public opposition to it.
His planned state banquet with Charles at the Palace of Versailles – the former home of France’s kings and queens up until the French Revolution of 1789 – is causing particular anger amid the on-going unrest, with some angry protesters even threatening politicians with the Guillotine in a terrifying throwback to those times.
In Britain, the visit is being seen as a hugely significant first state visit.
While there is no suggestion that the visit will be cancelled, sources have told the Mail that the palace was keeping a ‘close eye on the situation’ in France, which may affect their logistics.
There were two no-confidence votes in Mr Macron’s administration in the National Assembly on Monday, and his government only won narrowly.
‘Mr Macron is out of touch with ordinary people and has provoked all this violence,’ said a Paris rioter who asked to be referred to as Jerome, 19.
‘His paramilitary police have been told to fight the anger, and this is the reason for all the disturbances.’
The narrow votes in Mr Macron’s favour were a personal disaster for his prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, who had tried to rally a parliamentary majority for the pensions legislation.
Numerous politicians had been threatened with the guillotine if they supported President Macron’s government.
President Macron (pictured on Tuesday) has shown himself to be a supporter of British Royalty, and was much praised in Britain for his emotional tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death
Macron is currently being described as a ‘republican monarch’ in his own country, where there have been five nights of rioting since he forced his pension reform through despite huge public opposition to it. Pictured: Protesters gather in Bordeaux on Monday
Protesters set fire in the streets of Paris during the demonstration against the French Government’s pension reform in Paris, France on March 18, 2023
Police said macabre messages had been sent to MPs preparing for the crucial poll.
‘I am now receiving death threats,’ said Agnes Evren, MP and vice-president of the Republicans party.
She said anonymous tormenters had evoked the guillotining of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette in Paris during the so-called ‘Terror’ that followed the 1789 uprising.
‘These extremist refuse debate – they have no respect for their political adversaries and are openly inspired by the Terror,’ Ms Evren Tweeted. ‘Do not underestimate the danger any longer. Every threat of this type will now be the subject of a complaint.’
Violence has been reported in all major cities, with gangs roaming through the streets, burning effigies of the President and senior ministers before police respond with teargas and baton charges.
Some 10 tonne of rubbish have built up on the streets of Paris after binmen withdrew their labour.
A Buckingham Palace source said the situation in France ‘was being monitored,’ but there were no immediate plans to cancel any events. Royal aides will take advice from the UK Foreign Office and French authorities, the Mail has been told.
While nothing has changed yet programme wise, they added, it is possible that there may be an ‘impact on logistics’.
The royal visit is designed to celebrate the UK’s relationship with France, and beleaguered President Macron is certainly rolling out the red carpet with the state banquet at the Chateau de Versailles.
There have been two no-confidence votes in Mr Macron’s administration in the National Assembly on Monday, and his government only won narrowly. Pictured: Rubbish bins are seen having been set alight on the streets of Paris on Saturday
Unionists and protesters demonstrate to protest a few days after the governments pushed a pensions reform through parliament without a vote, using the article 49.3 of the constitution, in front of the prefecture building in Bordeaux, southwestern France on March 20, 2023
Several engagements during their four-day visit, after which they will travel on to neighbouring Germany, will be in highly public venues.
These include a wreath laying with President Macron and his wife at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris and a procession down the Champs-Elysees before a meeting between the King and the French leader at the Elysee Palace.
This could be a high-risk magnet for protesters determined to publicly humiliate President Macron during the high-profile visit.
Mr Macron’s wife Brigitte and the Queen Consort will also officially open a new exhibition at the Musee d’Orsay, which will be seen as less problematic.