King Charles III’s first state visit as monarch was scaled back Friday, dashing hopes for a triumphal tour to win hearts and minds abroad just as his mother did so successfully during her 70 years on the throne.
The visit by Charles and his wife, Camilla, to France was postponed amid mass protests in the country over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the pension system. The German leg of the trip will take place as planned.
Charles’ initial plan to visit France and Germany, the two biggest countries in the European Union, was meant to rebuild ties with Britain’s closest neighbors after six years of squabbling over Brexit. But French domestic troubles put paid to that.
“The king and queen consort’s State Visit to France has been postponed,” the British prime minister’s Downing Street office said in a statement. “This decision was taken with the consent of all parties, after the president of France asked the British government to postpone the visit.”
Buckingham Palace said another date would be found.
“Their Majesties greatly look forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found,” the palace said in a statement.
French labor unions have called for a day of nationwide protests and strikes on Tuesday in protest at Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. That is the day when the king had been due to travel to the western city of Bordeaux, with much security and ceremony, and the protests would have complicated his travel.
Charles and Camilla will now start their first state visit on Wednesday in Germany, where they will be welcomed with military honors by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.
On Thursday, the British king is set to give a speech to the Bundestag, meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and talk to Ukrainian refugees and military.
He goes to Hamburg on Friday, where he will visit the Kindertransport memorial for Jewish children who fled from Germany to Britain during the Third Reich, and attend a green energy event before returning to the UK in the evening.