Paris: The state visit of King Charles to France will be postponed amid tensions over pension reform, the French Presidency said on Friday.
The French and British governments took the decision following a phone call between President Emmanuel Macron and the King, the statement said.
King Charles had been due to make his first state visit as monarch to France, beginning a three-day trip on Sunday.
"Given the announcement yesterday of another day of national protest against the pension reform on Tuesday, King Charles' visit, initially scheduled for March 26-29, will be postponed," the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
he postponement will be a major embarrassment to Macron, who had hoped the monarch's visit would mark a symbolic step in the two countries' efforts to turn a page after years of poor relations post-Brexit.
King Charles had been due to travel first to France for three days before moving on to Germany, an itinerary that had been seen as a coup for the French leader who has sought to position himself as Europe's de facto leader.
"The visit will be rescheduled as soon as possible," the Elysee said in a statement.
A Buckingham Palace source said King Charles' visit to Germany will go ahead as planned.
Black-clad anarchists fought street battles with police for several hours in the French capital on Thursday, ransacking a McDonald's restaurant, smashing up bus shelters and setting alight mounds of garbage that have piled up during strikes.
In Bordeaux, at the heart of one of France's best-known wine growing areas and where King Charles had also been expected to visit, protesters set alight the entrance to the city hall.
The upending of plans to host King Charles - which included a lavish banquet at the Palace of Versailles - will only pile further pressure on Macron to find a way out of a crisis that has seen some of France's worst unrest since the 'Yellow Vest' rebellion of 2018/2019.
Meanwhile, protesters angry at Macron’s pension reforms continued with scattered actions on Friday amid slowed train traffic, rows of trucks blocking access to Marseille’s commercial port and debris still littering the Paris streets following the previous day’s mass demonstrations.
Over 450 protesters were arrested in Paris and beyond on Thursday as some 300 demonstrations drew more than a million people nationwide to protest against unpopular pension reforms.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday that some 441 police and gendarmes were injured as violence marred some marches.
He added that 1,000 trash bins were set on fire in the French capital during the previous day’s action. Amid a weeks-long refuse collectors strike, trash bins have become a symbol of the protest.
Polls say most French oppose Macron’s bill to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, which he says is necessary to keep the system afloat.
The supply of fuel to Paris by the large Gonfreville-L’Orcher refinery in Normandy resumed Friday after police intervened, according to Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher. At the Fos-sur-mer oil terminal near Marseille, however, protesters were meeting to plan future oil refinery blockades.
Fearing disruptions in coming days as actions continue, France’s Civil Aviation Authority has requested that a third of flights be canceled Sunday at Paris’ second airport, Orly, with 20% to be canceled Monday.
Unions have called for new protests and strikes on Tuesday, when Britain’s King Charles III is scheduled to visit Bordeaux on the second day of his trip to France. The heavy wooden door of the elegant Bordeaux City Hall was destroyed by fire Thursday night by people taking part in an unauthorized demonstration.
The mayor of Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, said Friday he had “difficulty understanding the interest of such acts of vandalism.” Hurmic said that he hopes Charles’ visit to his city next week will not be canceled.
“I hope that we do not give this gift to the thugs,” he said, although he acknowledged that a tram ride with the king may now be off the cards.
The protests have drawn support from beyond France’s borders. In Greece, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the French Embassy in Athens on Thursday to show solidarity.
Protesters chanted slogans and held placards that read “Macron, your democracy hangs on nine votes” and “From Greece: victory for the workers of France.”