(Paris) Garbage-strewn streets and transport strikes, King Charles III is likely to face several disruptions during his first state visit next week to a France in the midst of social conflict.
“There will be initiatives around this royal visit”, a source at the CGT union among railway workers told AFP, confirming that the king’s visit was “in the sights” of the demonstrators.
The tour of the British sovereign, a symbol of friendship after years of disputes between London and Paris, comes as France has been immersed for weeks in the protest against the pension reform.
King Charles and the queen consort, Camilla, will arrive in a Paris where tens of thousands of tons of waste are accumulating, due to the strike of garbage collectors opposed to the reform.
And in Bordeaux (south-west), the second stage of the journey, the tram visit planned for the royal couple appears to be compromised.
“ It is almost certain that the king will not be able to take the tram ” due to service interruption warnings, Pascal Mesgueni, from the CFTC (Christian) union, told the Sud-Ouest newspaper.
There will be “ possibly disruptions on the network ”, confirmed a spokesperson for the transport company.
On the other hand, the Mobilier national, a public establishment dependent on the Ministry of Culture, affirmed on Thursday that the red carpet would be rolled out well during this visit, despite the call from CGT strikers to ensure “neither the furnishings nor the red carpets, nor the flags”.
“ The National Furniture is in charge of rolling out this famous red carpet and non-striking agents, who represent the vast majority of our workforce, will take care of it ”, declared to AFP its director of communication, Loïc Turpin.
After two months of massive protest, the televised intervention on Wednesday by President Emmanuel Macron, who again assumed his pension reform, did not calm the anger. A new day of action is scheduled for Thursday, but uncertainty about the mobilization reigns over the days to come.
Sign that the program of the visit of Charles III could be established at the last minute, a source close to Mr. Macron told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that “ the program is still being developed by the two parts “.
Press arrangements are still pending, a rarity for a trip of such diplomatic importance.
According to the preliminary agenda shared by Buckingham Palace, Charles is expected to join Mr Macron for a commemoration and wreath laying ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Monday, and also address French senators.
He is then expected to travel to an organic vineyard in Bordeaux, as well as visit the region devastated by forest fires last summer.
The state banquet scheduled for Monday evening at Versailles, symbol of the French monarchy, does not go unnoticed either.
Green MP Sandrine Rousseau was indignant that the “republican monarch”, as she calls Emmanuel Macron, will welcome the British king while “the people in the street are demonstrating”.
“Let him cancel this visit of Charles III! “, she claimed Wednesday. “There is something happening in French society […] The priority is to discuss with this society which is rising,” she added.
Emmanuel Macron “ is certainly more comfortable with the monarchs than with the elected representatives of the people to whom he denies the right to vote on his pension reform ”, launched Ian Brossat, spokesperson for the Communist Party, after the adoption forceps of this text.
On the far left, New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) spokesman Olivier Besancenot hilariously summed up: Charles III, “We’re going to welcome him with a good old general strike! “.
After France, Charles III and Camilla are expected in Germany.
The choice of the two European nations was widely seen as an attempt to build bridges between Britain and its biggest European partners after years of Brexit tensions.