Buckingham Palace is ‘monitoring’ the volatile political situation in France, which has seen widespread strikes and disruptions, ahead of the King’s first state visit to the country later this week.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence in parliament last night over an unpopular pension reform that has sparked violent protests.
Oil refinery workers and garbage collectors have gone on strike with another national day of action called for Thursday.
King Charles and the queen consort are expected to arrive in the French capital on Sunday for what the UK government sees as a very significant first state visit.
There is no suggestion that the visit will be cancelled, but sources told the Mail that the palace was “closely monitoring the situation” which may affect its logistics.
King Charles and the queen consort are expected to arrive in the French capital on Sunday.
Oil refinery workers and garbage collectors have gone on strike and riots have broken out in recent days in protest of the new legislation.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence last night
A source said the royal attendants will follow the advice of the UK Foreign Office and French authorities.
While nothing has changed yet on the schedule, they added, there may be an “impact on logistics.”
The royal visit is designed to celebrate the UK’s relationship with France, and embattled President Macron will certainly roll out the red carpet with a glittering state banquet at the Chateau de Versailles.
Several engagements during their four-day visit, after which they will travel to Germany, will be in very public places.
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 ahead of 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.
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.
The King will also become the first British monarch in history to address the French Senate as part of a new post-Brexit charm offensive, while he and his wife will also visit Bordeaux before traveling to Germany.
There has been some surprise that the couple’s first foreign tour since accession is not to a partner Commonwealth or realm, where the king remains head of state.
But Whitehall sources made it clear last night that the government sees Europe as an immediate priority, particularly in light of the war in Ukraine.
They are willing to use the power of the King and Queen Consort’s ‘soft diplomacy’ to take advantage of the UK’s strong historical ties to some of its closest neighbours.
But it comes at a difficult time for President Macron, who is facing a national revolt over his attempts to force pension legislation through the French parliament without a vote, which will see the national retirement age rise from 62 to 64 and the number of years of people is extended. must contribute to the system to receive a full pension.
Last night in the National Assembly, 278 deputies voted in favor of a tripartite motion of no confidence presented by a centrist party and others, just nine fewer than the 287 needed for it to succeed.
The result will be a relief for Macron, because a successful vote of no confidence would have sunk the government and killed the legislation.
This now means that the widely unpopular pension reform will be signed directly into law.
However, further opposition is inevitable and experts are predicting another wave of violent anti-government protests.
Rioters have been on the streets since Macron bypassed the National Assembly last Thursday and tried to introduce the new legislation by presidential decree.
Groups of angry protesters burned effigies of the president and high-ranking ministers before riot police counterattacked with tear gas and force.
The capital has seen garbage collectors strike for 15 days in a row in reaction to the bill, meaning waste is piling up in the streets.
The three main incinerators serving the French capital have been mostly blocked, as has a garbage sorting center northwest of Paris.
Another consequence of the protests was that politicians were threatened with the guillotine if they supported Macron in the parliamentary vote of no confidence.
Pedestrians walk past a fire made from household waste during protests in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on Saturday.
A protester holds a banner with Macron’s face reading “they have to come for me” at a protest in Paris on Saturday.
Protesters carry an Emmanuel Macron puppet at a demonstration in Nice, southern France, on Sunday.
Lawmakers on the far left have documents that say ’64 years. It’s no’, ‘quote on the street’ and ‘we continue’ in today’s vote of confidence
Police said hundreds of macabre messages were sent yesterday to lawmakers preparing for the crucial vote in the National Assembly in Paris.
Agnes Evren MP and vice chair of the Republican Party said she was “receiving death threats” alluding to the guillotine shooting of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette during the “Terror” that followed the French Revolution in 1789.
She tweeted: “These extremists refuse to debate, have no respect for their political opponents and are openly inspired by Terror.”
Unions are demanding the government withdraw the retirement bill and have called for new protests across the country on Thursday.