French citizens angry at President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms engaged in scattered protest actions Friday, as the ongoing unrest across the country persuaded officials to postpone a planned state visit by Britain’s King Charles III.
Demonstrators had demanded that Charles cancel his trip, which was scheduled to start Sunday. The protests and labor strikes against Macron’s decision to raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64 already had promised to impact his visit, with workers refusing to roll out the red carpet for the king’s arrival.
Although no major protests were planned for Friday, train traffic was slowed, rows of trucks blocked access to Marseille’s port for several hours and debris still littered the streets of Paris following the previous day’s mass demonstrations.
Over 450 protesters were arrested in Paris and beyond as some 300 demonstrations on Thursday drew more than a million people nationwide. Polls show that most French people oppose having to work two more years before retiring, which Macron says is necessary to keep the pension system afloat.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 441 police officers and gendarmes were injured as violence marred some marches. He added that 1,000 trash bins were set on fire in the French capital; overflowing garbage cans have become a symbol of the protests during a weeks-long strike by sanitation workers.
Charles and Queen Consort Camilla planned to visit both France and Germany during the king’s first trip abroad as Britain’s monarch. He still plans to go to Germany, but British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said another date would be found for the French leg.