Why are the French rioting? Q&A on the chaos in Paris as King Charles cancels visit to France
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Protests across France have continued for a tenth day, as civilians and workers demonstrate against Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms.
Events have become increasingly more unsavoury, with Bordeaux town hall set alight yesterday evening. Violent demonstrations have also taken place in Paris, where tear gas was fired.
President Macron has criticised the actions of ‘violent armed activists’ in response to increased civil unrest.
King Charles’ trip to Paris and Bordeaux was set to begin on Sunday but has been postponed in the wake of violent demonstrations in both cities.
So, why are the French rioting? Why have protests across the country turned violent? Read on below for all you need to know.
Almost one million people were reported to have taken to the streets on Thursday, in protest against Macron
Why are there protests in France?
The French population are protesting against a proposed pension reform by Macron.
This reform would see the retirement age in France increased from 62 to 64 years old.
It would also force workers to contribute to the pension system for longer, as state pensions in the country are financed by a payroll tax.
Tensions have escalated with each passing day in France, with Bordeaux town hall set on fire by protesters last night (23 March)
Why have protests turned violent?
Macron has slowly lost support from the public and discontent among politicians in opposing has peaked.
This is because he invoked special Presidential powers (Article 49.3) to pass the reforms through the National Assembly without approval from the opposition.
Macron leads under the centrist Renaissance party, but rivals from left-wing parties sang the French national anthem in protest as he went to speak in the National Assembly last week.
The president has since refused to back down on his proposed pension reforms, causing protesters to resort to violence to make themselves heard.
What has Macron said in response to the riots?
In his latest response to scenes in Paris and Bordeaux, Macron declared that police have been victims of ‘totally disproportionate’ acts at the hands of ‘violent armed activists’.
Macron is determined to stand defiant in the face of unrest despite surviving a recent no-confidence vote.
One million people were reported to have taken to the streets to protest across the country on Thursday.
Why are the French public complaining about pension reforms?
The public are not just angry at Macron for increasing the retirement age.
The act of passing a law through the National Assembly without approval has been perceived as undemocratic, with civilians determined to make themselves heard in response.
Civilians and workers also argue that, if he is using Article 49.3 to increase the retirement age now, there is nothing to stop him doing so again in the future.
Charles and Camilla were due to travel to Paris and Bordeaux as part of a state visit to France
Why has Charles postponed his visit to Paris?
A joint decision was taken by the French and British governments to postpone the King’s visit, in order to protect his safety.
Security fears escalated after protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms became violent.
When will Charles’ Paris visit go ahead?
Charles’ state visit was cancelled at short notice, so a re-arranged date for the trip has yet to be announced.
King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, were meant to travel on to Berlin. It is not yet clear if they will do so.
With Charles’ coronation ceremony set for 6 May, the Royal Family have a busy upcoming schedule.
Why was Charles visiting Paris in the first place?
Charles 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.
Rubbish has piled high across the streets of Paris as binmen went on strike to protest against the reforms
What is the French press saying about Charles cancelling the trip?
France has endured a turbulent ten days since protests against Macron’s proposed reforms began.
As a result, much of the country’s recent media coverage has centred around the protests.
However, there is a sense that the postponement of King Charles’ visit to the country has increased the current plight of Macron.
What did Macron say about Charles’ visit? What has he said since it’s been postponed?
Speaking at a press conference following a summit in Brussels, Mr Macron said postponing the visit was a matter of maintaining ‘common sense and friendship’.
Macron warned that, had it gone ahead, the visit of Charles ‘would have prompted incidents’.
Emmanuel Macron has endured a torrid last ten days since announcing his proposed pension reforms to the French public
What was Charles’ schedule for the trip?
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.
What happened to the French royal family?
In the wake of the French Revolution, King Louis XVI was executed by the guillotine in 1793.
Although the monarchy was reinstated after his death, Louis Philippe I abdicated the throne in 1848, paving the way for the creation of the French Second Republic.
France remains a Republic to this day and has not had a monarch since.
Protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms have entered a tenth day
When did Charles last visit France?
Charles last visited France, with Camilla also present, in 2019.
During the visit, the royal couple attended services in the French city of Bayeux to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
When did the late Queen last visit France?
Queen Elizabeth II last visited France in 2014, arriving at the Gare du Nord in Paris on board a Eurostar service.
She also enjoyed a State Banquet at the Elysee Palace during her stay.