‘No risk’ for King Charles despite France retirement protests, Bordeaux mayor says

·2-min read

There will be no risk to the King when he visits Bordeaux, the town’s mayor has said after violence erupted in the region.

The town hall’s historic entrance was set alight on Thursday evening in protests against Emmanuel Macron’s move to push through reforms to raise the pension age.

Protesters gathered outside the Palais Rohan cheered as a part of the building went up in flames, one of a number of incidents of vandalism and violence across the country on Thursday evening after a day of largely peaceful strike action.

Bordeaux town hall was set on fire in French pension reform protests (Reuters)
Bordeaux town hall was set on fire in French pension reform protests (Reuters)

Construction of the city hall was completed by 1784, just years before the French Revolution. The building is a prominent example of French baroque architecture during the 18th century.

It came just days before King Charles was due to visit Bordeaux on a state visit to France. The trip has now been postponed, the Élysée Palace said, and it is unclear when it will take place.

Bordeaux mayor Pierre Hurmic said details had been adapted “so the visit can go ahead under the best security conditions, so as not to expose the King to the slightest risk”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin also said authorities were “extremely focused” on the trip.

He added France would be ready to welcome the King on his first state visit as monarch in “excellent conditions” and there were no “known threats”.

The state visit was set to begin on Sunday and to include a ride along the Champs-Elysées in the heart of Paris and a banquet at Versailles with President Emmanuel Macron, culminating in a visit to Bordeaux on Tuesday, before heading to Germany on Wednesday.

King Charles was due to visit France for his first state trip as monarch (PA Wire)
King Charles was due to visit France for his first state trip as monarch (PA Wire)

Thursday’s strike was the first day of national walkouts since Mr Macron pushed through a bill with his pension reforms, and upwards of one million people are reported to have taken part in protests and marches across France.

Building on the strong turnout on Thursday, unions have called for fresh protests this Tuesday.

Around 119,000 people marched through Paris on Thursday, according to data from the country’s Interior Ministry.

The General Confederation of Labour, however, claimed the number to be much higher, at 800,000.

Around 80 people were arrested by police and 120 police personnel and gendarmes were injured amid widespread violence and rioting, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said on Thursday evening.

He said 12,000 security forces had been deployed on Thursday, with 5,000 of these stationed in Paris.

The nationwide protests are the ninth round of union-organised demonstrations that have taken place since January, over pension reforms, which the government chose to push through without a parliamentary vote, making it the biggest domestic crisis for Mr Macron during his second term in office.