The state visit of King Charles III to France, scheduled for Sunday to Wednesday, is "postponed", "given the announcement of a new national day of action against pension reform" on March 28, a announced the Élysée on Friday.
Social anger will therefore have been right, an extremely rare occurrence, for a state visit.
This postponement, at the request of Emmanuel Macron, according to Downing Street, is a serious snub for the French president since King Charles III had insisted on making his first official visit to France as a monarch.
On the other hand, he will go, as planned, to Germany.
The decision to postpone the visit was taken "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 under conditions which correspond to our relationship of friendship", writes the French presidency in a press release, promising to reschedule the visit "as soon as possible".
King Charles and Camilla are looking forward to going to France "as soon as dates can be found", responded Buckingham Palace.
This announcement comes the day after a 9th day of demonstrations throughout France against the flagship reform of the Head of State, marked by a very strong mobilization and an increase in violence in the processions.
For that day alone, 441 police officers and gendarmes were injured. No figures are available regarding the demonstrators.
On the evening of this mobilization, the inter-union called for a new day of demonstrations and strikes on Tuesday.
Under these conditions, the king's visit aroused the greatest concern. Its precise program had not been published when Charles III was due to land in Paris on Sunday evening. He was to speak in particular on Monday in front of senators and deputies and to participate in a state dinner at the Palace of Versailles, in the company of Queen Consort Camilla.
The left, which for a few days had been criticizing this visit in full social anger, sees in this postponement a snub for the head of state, and a first setback.
"The meeting of kings at Versailles dispersed by popular censorship," quipped France's rebellious leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Twitter.
The national secretary of the PCF Fabien Roussel was also sardonic: "Like what, Emmanuel Macron has found the reverse gear".
And the socialist Jérôme Guedj summarizes: "Yesterday we asked for the postponement of the visit of Charles III. Now we want the press release to announce the withdrawal of the reform".
UK Ambassador to France Peter Ricketts expressed his understanding. "It will have been a difficult decision. But understandable. State visits are a time for celebration and now was not the time," he said.
Postponing a state visit is extremely rare. The King of Spain Felipe VI had given up his trip to France in 2015 after the tragedy of the crash of a Germanwings aircraft.
"What an image for our country of not even being able to ensure the security of a head of state", lamented the leader of the Republicans Eric Ciotti, the deputy RN Jean-Lin Lacapelle seeing it "a diplomatic humiliation unprecedented.
03/24/2023 14:00:32 - Paris (AFP) - © 2023 AFP