How Protests in France Could Affect King Charles and Queen Camilla's First Overseas Visit of New Reign

King Charles and Queen Camilla were set to attend a state banquet at Versailles hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and First Lady Brigitte Macron

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort arrive at Bolton Town House
King Charles and Queen Camilla at Sandringham recently . Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

King Charles and Queen Camilla could be adjusting the agenda of their upcoming state visit to France as members of the public protest President Emmanuel Macron's plan to raise the retirement age.

PEOPLE understands that Buckingham Palace is closely monitoring the situation and taking advice from the U.K.'s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as well as French officials. Logistics of the tour, which is set to begin on Sunday in France, may be impacted.

The Associated Press reports that 234 people were arrested in Paris this week, mostly for setting garbage on fire in the streets. Garbage collectors and other workers are striking over Macron's bold move to push through legislation raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote in Parliament. Reuters reports that Tuesday marked the sixth night of unrest in the country. Macron, 45, is reportedly eager to "calm things down," per the outlet.

A protester on a traffic light holds a placard reading "Macron at the service of Black Rock, Black bloc at the service of the people" during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde after the French government pushed a pensions reform through parliament without a vote, using the article 49,3 of the constitution, in Paris on March 16, 2023. - The French president on March 16 rammed a controversial pension reform through parliament without a vote, deploying a rarely used constitutional power that risks inflaming protests. The move was an admission that his government lacked a majority in the National Assembly to pass the legislation to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Earlier this month, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 75, would visit France and Germany at the end of March for the first overseas visits of the new royal reign.

The tour was set to run from March 26 to March 31, packing between 25 to 30 different engagements across the two countries in six days. Highlights in France were due to include a spectacular state banquet at Versailles hosted by President Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, and a ceremony of Remembrance and wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe.

A protester sits on top of a lamp post with a placard that reads "Macron at the service of Black Rock, Black Block at the service of the people" as demonstrators light fires at Place de la Concorde in protest to the French Government pushing their Pension Reform through France's Parliament without a vote after enacting article 49.3 of the constitution, on March 16, 2023 in Paris, France. Labour unions had fought the government's pension reform with months of protests in a bid to stop the age of retirement in France increasing from 62 to 64.
Paris protests. Kiran Ridley/Getty

While Charles has officially traveled the world for decades in his role as the Prince of Wales while supporting his late mother Queen Elizabeth, this is his first landmark tour as head of state and monarch.

"The visit will celebrate the U.K.'s relationship with France and Germany, marking our shared histories, culture and values," a palace spokesperson said when the trip was announced. "It is also a chance to look forwards and show the many ways our countries are working in partnership, whether that be to tackle climate change; respond to the conflict in Ukraine; seize trade and investment opportunities or share the best of our arts and culture."

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"As well as speaking to the strength of the United Kingdom's bilateral relationships with France and Germany, Their Majesties' visit will include engagements highlighting the importance of sustainability and community — key themes which have been embraced by citizens of all our countries. There will also be opportunities to reflect on the sacrifices and challenges of our shared past, out of which has come an enduring legacy of cooperation and reconciliation," the spokesperson continued.

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on November 22, 2022 in London, England. This is the first state visit hosted by the UK with King Charles III as monarch, and the first state visit here by a South African leader since 2010.
King Charles and Queen Camilla. Chris Jackson/Getty

Some royal watchers had speculated that King Charles and Queen Camilla would concentrate on one of the countries of the Commonwealth for the new monarch's first official tour. However, the two European capitals have apparently been chosen to underscore historical links with European neighbors in the aftermath of the U.K. leaving the European Union and the war on Ukraine.

Palace officials point out that all travel is at the request of the British government and follows invitations from the two countries as well.

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