King Charles III of Britain announced plans on Thursday for a visit to France next month, his first trip to the country as monarch, after widespread demonstrations postponed a visit planned earlier this year and caused an awkward moment for President Emmanuel Macron.
The British monarch and his wife, Queen Camilla, will visit Paris and Bordeaux from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22, Buckingham Palace said, adding that it would be a celebration of “the shared history, culture and values of the United Kingdom and France.”
The French president had originally intended to host King Charles in March, in one of the king’s first overseas trips as Britain’s head of state. On the heels of a visit from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the plan for King Charles’s trip was a signal of a warming in the relationship between the two countries, which has been strained in the years since Britain formally left the European Union in 2021.
But an outpouring of anger in March over a plan by Mr. Macron to raise the retirement age in France to 64 from 62 spurred huge street demonstrations and strikes, some of which turned violent. The strikes also disrupted train services, causing concerns over the travel logistics.
A state visit in the midst of the demonstrations would have been a mistake, Mr. Macron said at the time, adding that the trip would be rescheduled. Instead, Charles went to Germany for a three-day state visit for his first official overseas trip as a king.
Opposition lawmakers in France had used the plans for the March visit — which had included a state banquet just outside Paris at the Château de Versailles, the former residence of kings and queens — as evidence that Mr. Macron was out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. Protesters announced plans to block the path of a tramway on the king’s scheduled route.
France has faced convulsive protests on several issues this year, forcing Mr. Macron to repeatedly postpone diplomatic plans in order to focus on domestic issues. Earlier this summer, Mr. Macron delayed a state visit to Germany after anger at the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old outside Paris touched off unrest and riots across France.