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French trade unionists and politicians have vowed to disrupt King Charles and Queen Camilla’s state visit to Paris and Bordeaux next week with strikes and protests. They have said they will demonstrate against the first overseas visit by the monarch and his consort in the new reign in an angry reaction to President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 without a direct parliamentary vote.
Protesters said they would target a state banquet at the Palace of Versailles and also a trip to the south western city of Bordeaux.
Left-wing firebrand Olivier Besancenot said of the King: “We are going to welcome him with a good old general strike.”
Mr Besancenot, who stood as a presidential candidate for the Revolutionary Communist League in 2007, added: “We are engaged in a battle, there will be a winner and a loser.”
The King and Queen Camilla may have to abandon some of their plans and protestors intend to stop their travel around parts of Bordeaux, where at one point they are expected to take a tram.
Pascal Mesgueni, a local public transport representative of the powerful CTFC (French Confederation of Christian Workers) said: “It’s almost certain that the King will not be able to take the tram.
“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. And the tram will be blocked by vehicles in front 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.”
The state visit from Sunday to Wednesday before the royal couple head to Germany, is intended to bolster ties between Britain and France in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and after turmoil over Brexit.
Mr Macron, who was praised in Britain for his emotional tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death, has been described by critics as a “republican monarch” in France, where there have been five nights of rioting since he forced his pension reform through.
His planned state banquet with Charles at the Palace of Versailles – former home of France’s kings and queens up until the French Revolution of 1789 – is causing particular anger.
There were two no-confidence votes in Mr Macron’s administration in the National Assembly on Monday, and his government only won narrowly.
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“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. Buckingham Palace said yesterday that some logistics arrangements might have to be changed because of the planned protests but the visit would go ahead.
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