King Charles likes to ‘mingle with crowds’ so would not be safe in riot-hit Paris, France warns – as Emmanuel Macron says ‘common sense and friendship’ led to ‘detestable’ decision to postpone trip
A ‘humiliated’ Emmanuel Macron today admitted he asked King Charles to cancel his state visit to France because of ‘detestable’ nationwide rioting, looting and mass protests over his pension reforms.
Speaking in Brussels this afternoon, the French President suggested the new date for the King’s visit to France would be in the ‘early summer’ in 2023.
Incredibly security sources in Paris have tried to claim the postponement was in part because the French feared the security of King Charles could not be guaranteed ‘because of his interest in mingling with crowds’.
One British source told MailOnline this is ‘laughable’ given how much of France has descended into political chaos since Macron forced through his plans to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64 – sparking violence, crime sprees and marches in all corners of the republic.
Mr Macron has insisted that ‘common sense and friendship’ led to the ‘detestable decision for the British people and for us’, adding: ‘I think it would not be responsible and would lack some common sense if we invited His Majesty the King and the Queen Consort for a state visit in the midst of the demonstrations.
‘So, out of friendship, respect and esteem for His Majesty the King and Queen Consort, and for the British people, I took the initiative this morning to call and tell him what the situation was’, he said.
Emmanuel Macron President of France talks during a press conference at the end of the EU Council Meeting in Brussels today where he said both Britain and France are saddened by the need to cancel King Charles’ state visit
Charles and Camilla with President Macron in 2020. The royal couple will be ‘saddened’ by the cancellation, experts say
French unions and anarchists are marching after President Emmanuel Macron enflamed public anger by forcing a higher retirement age through parliament without a vote
Riot police scuffle with a protester during a rally in Paris yesterday. Hundreds of officers have been injured
The monarch was due to arrive in Paris with the Queen Consort on Sunday for the four-day trip with the highlight being a state banquet at Versailles on Monday night.
Why has Charles postponed his visit to Paris and when will it now go ahead? Q&A on King’s cancelled trip to France
But the French President’s aides feared the event could stir up revolutionaries across the Channel, given the chateau’s links to the 1789 Revolution and the last king of France Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette, who were guillotined in 1793.
Macron’s decision has put him under more pressure at home, with Eric Ciotti, leader of the Gaullist The Republicans party declaring: ‘The visit of Charles III is cancelled by the Government due to social unrest. What an image for our country, which is not even able to ensure the security of a head of state’.
Mr Macron telephoned the monarch this morning to ask him to stay in the UK after a call to 10 Downing Street with the same advice in a huge blow to his credibility as he battles for control of the streets.
Experts told MailOnline today that Charles III would have been determined to cross the Channel to show ‘you cannot give in to the mob’ as anarchists smash and burn cities and Paris became submerged in tonnes of uncollected rubbish.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said that the symbolism of a state banquet at Versailles as France burns would have been Macron’s ‘Marie Antoinette moment’ had he not cancelled.
He said: ‘The postponement of King Charles’s state visit to France, the first of his reign, marks a humiliation for President Macron. The country is descending into anarchy and it was clearly impossible to guarantee the safety of the royal party and to keep to any set schedule where security could be relied on. Threats to disrupt the visit were all too real, especially give the symbolism attached to Versailles, where a state banquet was to be held.
A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire in Rue Saint-Marc, Paris, set by protesters
Rubbish is also piled high in the streets of the French capital
‘This really was a disaster with the Palace’s links to an Ancien Regime which was toppled by a Revolution. These are too close for comfort for Macron at the moment and marks a volte face by his Government which was insisting earlier today that it would go ahead’.
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A total of 457 people were arrested and 441 police and security forces were injured on Thursday during nationwide protests, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said today.
Yesterday it emerged that Charles’ trip was being reviewed after hardliners vowed to target Charles’ visit and even blockade him in Paris and Bordeaux.
Today Macron pulled the plug, despite being determined for it to go ahead to prove he is still in charge.
The decision is said to be made after talks between the French and British authorities – but security experts told MailOnline that because the French police and secret services have primacy for the security operation, it will have been their advice to call it off.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘The King and The Queen Consort’s State Visit to France has been postponed. Their Majesties greatly look forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found.’
Charles and Camilla were due to travel from France to Germany for a state visit, from next Wednesday to Friday, and it is understood the visit to Berlin will proceed as planned.
Investigative journalist Tom Bower told MailOnline that Macron had ‘bowed to the left wing mob’ – and Charles would have wanted to face them down for his first state visit.
And Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer who now runs the security business Trojan Consultancy, said the decision to pull the plug will have been on French advice because it is ‘a state visit to France – not the other way around’.
He told MailOnline: ‘It is a bit embarrassing for the French. There’s a risk factor to the King and Queen Consort’s safety, plus that of the public. But simply it might be they need all their resources to keep basic law and order and they don’t have the capacity to deal with a state visit as well.
‘I should imagine that the French authorities felt they could do without the distraction of a state visit whilst they have serious public disorder and political unrest in the country’.
j) The entrance door of the city hall of Bordeaux burned during a wild demonstration last night. Charles and Camilla were due to visit the city
Pictured: A banner reading ‘general strike’ is displayed on a dome of the La Major cathedral in Marseille, southern France, on March 23
The postponement is a humiliation from Macron, whose ministers had been insisting that the state visit would go ahead as scheduled.
It came after anti-government thugs were accused of ‘trying to kill police officers’ across France today as arsonists attacked civic buildings including one in a city Charles was set to visit next week.
A crack team of officers from the SDLP Protection Service unit rigorously studied the monarch’s profile before his intended State Visit this weekend.
‘They became aware of the King’s habit of impromptu handshakes, and talking to ordinary people whenever he could,’ said a source who was involved in the planning of four-days of events across France.
‘There are huge social tensions in France, and there is no doubt that such good manners could have been very dangerous indeed.’
President Emmanuel Macron has been attacked during similar meetings, and his popularity is at an all-time low after he raised the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.
The move has provoked eight straight nights of rioting, with arson attacks on areas due to be visited by Charles.
The King has suffered eggs being thrown at him in the UK, but attacks were likely to have been far more sinister in France.
‘Highly politicised activists are out on the streets, and they would have certainly targeted the English king,’ said a French governmental source.
‘King Charles made it clear that he did not just want to hide away in palaces – it was to be a proper visit, involving as many people as possible, or no tour.’
While the word ‘postponement’ is being used by the French and British authorities, no alternative dates have yet been offered.
A fire is seen as riot police officers are in action to disperse demonstrators in Paris on March 23
There have been constant night time riots since the measure was forced through by decree last Thursday, and now millions are set to gather during the day – with the biggest airport in France blocked by demonstrators this morning. Pictured: A demonstrator holds a smoke flare during a demonstration in Reims, eastern France, on March 23, 2023
Outbreaks of violence were reported from Paris to Marseilles overnight from Thursday to Friday, as a fire was lit at the historic City Hall in Bordeaux – where the King and Camilla, the Queen Consort, were heading.
Commenting on 149 police officers being seriously injured and 172 people being arrested across the country, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said extremism was intensifying.
‘There are thugs, often from the far-Left, who want to bring down the state and kill police officers,’ said Mr Darmanin, during a visit to Paris police headquarters.
There at least 140 acts of arson in Paris alone, with one of the most serious attacks being on a residential block close to the Paris Opera.
More than a million people took to the streets on Thursday to protests against the government, as riot police used teargas, baton charges and water canon to bring crowds to order.
Among the injured protesters was a woman who lost her thumb during a riot in the Normandy city of Rouen.
Trade Unions have warned that the violence will get worse unless Mr Macron reverses his pension reforms.
‘The president must change his incomprehensible stubbornness or the situation will get worse,’ said Marylise Leon, of the CFDT union.
The unions had called for further protests next Tuesday, which would have coincided with the King’s visit to the country.
He was due to attend a number of events in Bordeaux and Paris, including making a speech at the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament.
Protesters had already threatened to target the Royal couple, saying he is not welcome in the republic during a period of social chaos.
Beyond riots, anti-Macron protests in France have included some 10,000 tonnes of rubbish building up on the streets of Paris after binmen withdrew their labour.
Highlights of the historic tour included Charles and Camilla joining their French hosts, President Macron and his wife, Brigitte, for a ceremony of remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe.
Afterwards, the foursome were to be part of a procession down the Champs Elysees towards the Elysee Palace, the French president’s official residence.
Camilla and Mrs Macron were due to officially open the new Manet and Degas exhibition at the Musee d’Orsay while Charles gave an address from the senate chamber.
The King and Queen Consort were also due to visit Bordeaux, centre of the wine-growing region and home to many British expats.
They were due to visit an organic vineyard and Charles would have met emergency workers who tackled wildfires on the outskirts of the city last summer.
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