French tram drivers will refuse to transport King Charles during state visit

King Charles and the Queen - Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images
King Charles and the Queen - Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images

French tram drivers will refuse to take King Charles III on a tour through Bordeaux during his state visit, striking workers warned amid violent protests rocking the country.

“Charles III, we are going to welcome him with a good old general strike,” warned Olivier Besancenot, of the far-Left New Anti-capitalist Party in an interview with France Info.

The King and Queen are expected to arrive in Paris on Sunday for the start of their first official state visit to France, which takes place against a backdrop of anti-Emmanuel Macron protests. Authorities have reportedly warned the King to avoid large crowds.

Parisians can expect major traffic disruptions, with blocked roads and long motorcades when the couple move between different venues and make the hour-long drive from Paris to Versailles on March 27. BFMTV reported that the city’s entire public order and traffic department have been ordered to work during the visit.

Security for the royal couple will be shared between British security officers and French police forces.

During their stay in Paris, the King and Queen will lay a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe alongside Mr and Mrs Macron, address members of the National Assembly and attend the opening of an exhibit at the Musee d’Orsay. The French president will also host a state dinner in their honour at the Château de Versailles.

On Tuesday, the royal couple will travel to Bordeaux by train, where they will inaugurate the new local British Consulate, meet members of the British community and tour an organic vineyard.

The original Bordeaux itinerary also included a tram ride into the city centre before a quick stroll through town and a visit to a canelé pastry shop.

But one local union leader warned that demonstrators are likely to descend on the tracks and block the tram as part of their continued protests against the government’s contentious pension reforms, which were passed on Monday night when the opposition failed to shore up enough votes in no-confidence motions.

“It is almost certain that the King will not be able to take the tram, warned Pascal Mesgueni, a representative of the CFTC union in an interview with Sud Ouest. “No driver will want to transport the King.”

Since Mr Macron forced through his pension reform bill without a vote on Thursday, demonstrators have taken to the streets of Bordeaux every day. Under the bill, the age of retirement will rise from 62 to 64.

In a separate interview with daily 20 Minutes, another union rep said protesters planned to take advantage of the royal visit to hold “big demonstrations and big blockages” on the day of the couple’s arrival.

The royal visit to France ends on March 29 before the couple travel to Germany.