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King Charles’s state visit to France will be marred by strikes, trash, flaming baguettes

Paris is burning. French President Emmannuel Macron barely survived a vote of no confidence after he – cavalierly? – attempted to ram through a bill which would raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64. When the bill was first announced, French people went bonkers. Riots, arson, vandalism, parts of the country were at a virtual stand-still. But still, Macron had the narrow margin to survive and it appears that the retirement age will be raised, much to everyone’s dismay. That all went down last weekend. Guess what’s happening this coming weekend? A very royal visit from King Charles and Queen Camilla. Charles and Camilla have not left Britain since before Queen Elizabeth II’s passing last September. There was some talk that Charles would wait until after the coronation, but then he decided to “shore up” Britain’s EU allies, France and Germany, and give him the ol’ horsey razzle-dazzle with a whirlwind state visit. The problem is that France is in no state to host a royal visit. The French tram drivers have announced a general strike for the king’s visit. Vive la révolution!

French tram drivers will refuse to take King Charles III on a tour through Bordeaux during his state visit, striking workers have 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 Consort are expected to arrive in Paris on Sunday for the start of their first official state visit in France, which takes place against a backdrop of angry anti-Macron protests. On Tuesday, they 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 includes a tram ride into the city centre, before a quick stroll through town and a visit to a canalé 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 President Emmanuel Macron forced through his pension reform bill without a vote on Thursday, demonstrators have also 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 plan to take advantage of the royal visit to hold “big demonstrations and big blockages” on the day of the couple’s arrival, which is March 28. According to French news channel BFM TV, French authorities have advised the King to avoid the possibility of large crowds.

[From The Telegraph]

The Telegraph also points out that Charles and Camilla originally planned for some big, public staged events in Paris, like a wreath-laying at the Arc de Triomphe and a visit to at least one of the bigger museums, plus a dinner at Versailles. The problem? There’s trash everywhere and – I would imagine – parts of the city will still be on fire. The garbage-collection union is on strike until March 27. So… the optics of Charles and Camilla’s state visit will be amazing, you guys. Charles wanted to go to France because he believed the French people would treat him gently, that they would be interested in a very English king. Charles is going to be lucky if he avoids being pelted with a flaming baguette.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images, Instar, Avalon Red.

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Scobie: There is ‘little worry’ at the palace over the growing anti-monarchy apathy

On Commonwealth Day, there was a sizable protest and demonstration outside of Westminster Abbey, timed specifically for the arrival of the Windsors for the Commonwealth service. In most of the footage of the arrivals, you can hear activists heckling King Charles and Prince William as they enter the Abbey. It was pretty great, and also unremarkable these days. For Charles especially, there are republican protests constantly at his events. He’s had eggs thrown at him, he’s been booed by crowds, he’s had to arrive at events with folks shouting at him through a bullhorn. It’s amazing. Republic CEO Graham Smith has spoken about the rise in anti-monarchy protests now that QEII has passed, and Republic is raising more money now than they ever have. Which is where Omid Scobie’s latest column picks up. Scobie writes that it’s not even these protests which should worry Charles, it’s the widespread apathy and ambivalence towards the monarchy in general. Some highlights from Scobie’s column:

Charles is historically unpopular: Since the death of the late Queen, there has been a notable shift in how the monarch and his consort has been received across the country. Recent polls show that while a majority of the nation still believes in having a monarchy, support for the Royal Family has become softer than ever before. A YouGov poll even revealed that Brits favouring abolition now stood at 32 per cent, while positive views of the country’s current reigning monarch have dropped more than 20 points since the switch from Queen to King.

The Republic demonstration on Commonwealth Day: At Monday’s Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, the pressure group’s chants could be heard echoing from the street and through the Great West Door. And at a demonstration during Charles and Camilla’s May 7 visit to Colchester, Essex, the couple were greeted by boos from a group of campaigners, who shouted, “Why are you wasting our money?” and “Don’t you believe in democracy, Charles?”. It’s a sight Elizabeth II rarely ever had to deal with, but for King Charles it’s quickly become too common an occurrence.

Graham Smith spoke to Scobie: “While Republic has its work cut out it is notable that this is the first time since the introduction of universal suffrage that there’s been an active and unapologetic republican movement,” founder Graham Smith tells me. [But] as Graham Smith admits, that growing apathy is an even bigger problem than Republic campaigners. “We can keep raising awareness of the problems and scandals of the monarchy, getting people to understand why it’s worth caring about getting rid of it. That includes connecting the institution to issues of identity, social justice and democratic reform. The royals will struggle to re-engage the indifferent, there just isn’t any reason for people to be interested in them anymore than any other celebrity family.”

The palace isn’t worried: Behind palace walls, I’m told there is “little worry” at present about a growing republican sentiment in the UK. One royal source says, “There was never any doubt that the public sentiment towards the Royal Family would change with the King. There are plenty of positive things to be focused on.”

Widespread apathy: Recent polls highlight a growing apathy towards the Royal Family in recent years. Indeed, even in my own experiences with talking about my work at universities across the country, I’ve found that students often admit to an indifference towards the Royal Family. News outlets focused on younger audiences have seen a similar reaction. Sophie Peachey, a journalist and producer at The News Movement, says young readers see the royals as just “another” dynasty. “What we found was that what Gen Z was interested in was not the people, it’s the institution as a whole, it’s the themes that shroud the monarchy,” she said at the Society of Editors’ Media Freedom Conference on Wednesday, adding that popular videos included: “Who actually is King Charles?” and “Does the public want a monarchy?”

The protests for the Chubbly: At King Charles’ May 6 coronation, Republic are expecting their largest ever turnout for a protest. Compared to the thousands out in the streets celebrating, it will no doubt be a comparatively smaller crowd, but, argues Smith, “we will have the advantage of standing out, having a powerful message and making an impact greater than our size. Showing the world that we’re not a nation of sycophants and royalists is hugely important and will help shift the debate onto asking why people oppose the monarchy. After the coronation we will continue to protest at royal events attended by Charles and William, continue to ask them difficult questions and continue to tell them that they’ll never be our king.”

[From Yahoo UK]

This reads a lot like the Telegraph’s piece last week, where even the old monarchist Tories are starting to feel unsettled by all of this lack of deference for the king. In that piece, as in this one, the palace continues to insist that they were expecting Charles to be less beloved than his mother and this too shall pass, etc. I don’t even think it’s a matter of “Charles is going to have to worry about this in the years to come” – I think Charles and his advisors are sh-tting themselves right now and have been for some time.

For decades, Charles has fundamentally misjudged the issue and how to remedy it: he believed it was a PR issue and he could just throw money at it (as in, hire good PR people) and wait it out. The thing is, he spent all of that money and his support continues to be a mile wide and an inch deep. The king has been rattled FOR YEARS by a Netflix show, for goodness sake. He also believes that once everyone sees Camilla in a crown, smirking at her grandchildren at the coronation, people will feel a sense of calm and connection to the crown. But what will happen, instead, is that once we see the visuals of the coronation, Graham Smith is going to be flooded with donations and more anti-monarchist volunteers.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Cover Images, Avalon Red.

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The coronation will be Queen Camilla’s ‘victory lap,’ much to William’s chagrin

It feels like people are only realizing it now, that they’re going to watch King Charles’s mistress-turned-wife be crowned alongside him at the May coronation. We knew it as an abstraction, like “oh, yeah, obviously that’s going to happen.” But over the past month, Queen Consort Camilla has been making it clear that she “won,” that the coronation is HER victory lap, that everything is going to be all about Camilla. It feels like that energy is being met with widespread revulsion too, the fact that Charles is so weak that he’d allow Camilla to take over his coronation this way. Tom Sykes – Daily Beast’s Royalist columnist – has a new piece about all of this, with some interesting insider quotes. Some highlights:

Camilla’s victory lap: The decision to give Camilla Parker Bowles’ grandchildren official roles in the coronation represents a “victory lap” for her and Charles, a friend of hers has told The Daily Beast. The move will cement her family in a powerful and influential position at the heart of the British establishment. “Camilla never asked for any of this,” one friend of hers told The Daily Beast, “But Charles always wanted her to be queen. Lots of people doubted he could pull it off but he has, and including her family in the coronation is something of a victory lap for both of them.”

Prince William wasn’t consulted on this: However the news that her five grandchildren are to be given a starring role at the coronation, holding a golden canopy over Her Majesty during literally the most sacred part of the ceremony—the anointing of the royal personage with holy oil—came as a surprise to Prince William, who does not have a close relationship with Camilla’s children, journalist Tom Parker Bowles and gallerist Laura Lopes, a friend of his said. Prince Harry is not believed to have been consulted about any aspects of the coronation given his estrangement from his family.

The significance of Camilla’s grandchildren having roles: The idea that the queen’s five grandchildren would have a prominent and official role at the coronation would have been laughed out of court two years ago, simply because none of them have royal ancestry or are expected to perform public service in their adult life, and a coronation is a state event, not a family one. To include them, therefore, is tantamount to announcing them as members of the inner circle; it will elevate them to an entirely new public and social status as Official Royal Grandkids. The corresponding exclusion of the Sussex kids will also, of course, send the opposite message to the Sussex grandchildren, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, who will be passing the Parker Bowles clan on the down escalator.

Camilla’s grandkids: As of May 7, this new famous five will be among the most eligible teenagers in the land. Socially ambitious parents will be well aware that a friendship with them will guarantee their children a VIP pass into the privileged center of British society. It is a leg-up like no other and an extraordinary decision by Camilla and Charles, given that it was only in February last year that the palace finally gave up the line that Camilla would never be queen. Their inclusion is testament to the huge power and authority that Camilla has consolidated since the announcement by the late Queen Elizabeth that she wished Camilla to be known as Queen Consort when Charles ascended the throne.

Charles’s cynicism: The pledge that Camilla would only ever be known as Princess Consort was made on Charles’ behalf to assuage public anger over Charles marrying the woman who Diana blamed for making their marriage impossible. It was never intended to be honored. It was a straightforward, cynical deception aimed at buying time while a team of spinners worked on the long game: improving Camilla’s image and acceptability to the British public. The job is now done, and not only is Camilla queen, but her grandchildren are being publicly recognized as royals in all but name.

William & Kate’s surprise: The move by Charles to include Camilla’s grandchildren in May’s ceremony—Palace spinners have been briefing that it shows Charles is a champion of the “blended family”—has surprised friends of William and Kate. One friend of William and Harry’s told The Daily Beast: “It was unexpected. If you’re meeting William and Kate for the first time, it’s best not to say you’re a friend of Tom or Laura’s. It’s not that they actively dislike them, it’s just that they don’t really know them and are not close to them. Also, all their friends are journalists or in the media in some way because of their lives as writers and critics. It’s a slightly louche scene and it makes [William and Kate] nervous.”

How Tom Parker Bowles feels: A friend of Tom’s said, “He didn’t exactly meet the boys [Harry and William] under the best conditions and they were never mates.” Asked if they were surprised Tom wanted his children to have a pivotal role in the ceremony, the friend said, “Tom is very savvy, and I think he would see it as an amazing opportunity for them. But ultimately he would have left it up to them. I assume they have said they want to do it.”

Christopher Andersen’s take: “It seems like an obvious slap in the face to Harry and William—both of them, we now know for certain, begged Charles not to marry Camilla. There is this gnawing sense that, were it not for Camilla, Diana is the one we would see being crowned queen on May 6. The message it sends is, ‘We really don’t need you and your family, Harry. Camilla’s will fill in the void just fine.’ As for the whole ‘Aren’t we a modern blended family?’ bit, it seems to me that that is little more than a kind of disingenuous New Age cover for Camilla getting her way—yet again.”

[From The Daily Beast]

Sykes overemphasizes the point about “Parker-Bowles in, Sussexes out” when it comes to the royal grandkids, although Sykes claims that Charles “had little choice but to accept Sussex demands that their children got their princely titles.” The Sussex didn’t demand, they acknowledged the reality of the Letters Patent, and they called Charles’s bluff publicly. It’s also clear that the inclusion of Camilla’s grandchildren is MEANT as a slap in the face to both Prince Harry and Prince William. This is Camilla’s victory over her two stepsons as well, her need to lord it over Diana’s sons and completely write Diana out of the narrative as thoroughly as possible. It’s funny that William and Kate’s “friends” are suddenly worried about the optics of all of this and that the louche Parker-Bowles crew is now part of the royal establishment. Hilariously, William is part of the coronation committee too – guess he missed the meeting where it was decided that Camilla’s grandchildren would get precedence over Charles’s grandchildren. Whoopsie!

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

Queen Camilla

Queen Camilla wore one of QEII’s brooches for the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival started on Tuesday. Princess Anne and Zara Tindall were there on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, the Queen Consort came out. Fashion notes: Camilla’s coat is a repeat – she’s had this Anna Valentine coat in a fug shade of camel for years. Ditto with the awful hat. That hat is one of her favorites, for some reason. No one even knows if that’s faux fur, but it looks like one of those cheap bucket hats you could find in Target. Camilla doesn’t “elevate” inexpensive pieces – she makes expensive pieces look cheap and dowdy. Anyway, Camilla looked perkier than usual because she was around horses, plus she looted her dead mother-in-law’s jewelry box.

Queen Camilla is taking the reins. The Queen Consort, 75, joined horse racing fans at a high-profile festival on Wednesday, heading to Cheltenham for the landmark race meeting of the spring. She kept warm in a fur-trimmed hat and a matching camel coat, accessorized with a silver brooch featuring a galloping horse and rider — a piece that previously belonged to Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Camilla has picked up the mantle of representing the horse racing fraternity from the late monarch, who was a passionate racehorse owner, breeder and spectator.

The focus of Queen Camilla’s visit was the Queen Mother Champion Steeplechase (named for Queen Elizabeth’s late mother). Before the race, she visited the paddock to check on the horses before presenting the winning trophy at the end of the race.

As Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla supported a number of equestrian charities, including the Ebony Horse Club, the Brooke Hospital for Animals and the British Equestrian Federation. Queen Camilla is a regular attendee at the Cheltenham races. The late Queen Elizabeth focused mostly on flat racing, with Royal Ascot in June being most closely associated with her. Cheltenham is about 43 miles from Camilla’s country home, Ray Mill House in Wiltshire.

[From People]

Let’s just say it – much like the late QEII, Camilla shows much more enthusiasm for horses than she does literally anything else. Camilla was most recently seen staggering away from a group of Maori performers on Commonwealth Day, with the excuse that a blustery wind might knock her drunk ass over. But here she is looking hale and hearty on a rainy day at the races. Priorities, priorities. Meanwhile, I’m sure that King Charles has already sold off a huge chunk of his mother’s stables, so all that’s left for Camilla is “wandering around Cheltenham without any horses in the race.”

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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Queen Camilla staggered past the Maori performers on Commonwealth Day

This year’s Commonwealth Day in the UK didn’t get much coverage internationally or locally, from what I can see. That’s what happens when Commonwealth Day falls on the Monday after the Oscars. So, people are still looking at the photos mid-week and going “oh right, that happened on Monday.” As we discussed, the Princess of Wales wore an awful Erdem suit, Sophie wore Meghan cosplay and Queen Camilla couldn’t be bothered to secure her hat on a windy day.

It was just last night that I saw the videos of the Windsors’ arrivals at Westminster Abbey. Despite the windy conditions, Maori performers had been stationed outside the Abbey to give a traditional greeting to the Windsors as they all arrived in separate cars. King Charles and Queen Camilla were the first to arrive, and look at this wide shot of their arrival:

#QueenCamilla blatantly disrespected her Maori subjects! #QueenElizabeth would never let some wind stop her from showing respect to the cultures of the diverse Commonwealth Realms. Camilla is unfit for queendom!

— Princess of Wails (@KmartRoyal) March 14, 2023

So, I went looking for this wide angle on YouTube, but it looks like all of the British outlets chose a much tighter shot on King Charles for the arrival, all so they could avoid the angle of Camilla disrespectfully (and drunkenly?) staggering past the Maori performers. Like, it was windy, her hat was about to blow off, but you know what? That’s no excuse. This is her first Commonwealth Day and Commonwealth service as queen! And she couldn’t even be bothered to show a modicum of respect for the Maori performers. Guess what? They were also dealing with blustery conditions. Asinine. Camilla is so disrespectful. Of course, the rest of the Windsors only stopped for a moment to acknowledge the performers too.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

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Princess Kate wore a new £3,000 Erdem suit to the Commonwealth service

On Monday, the Windsors celebrated Commonwealth Day by going to church for a Commonwealth service. This was famously the same event which served as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s final appearance as working royals, the finale of their You Coulda Had a Bad Bitch Tour. Three years later and… a lot has changed. Everyone seems smaller and yet… more chaotic? The drama is still there, even minus the Sussexes, although the glamour definitely left with them.

The Princess of Wales loves to cosplay other people – QEII, her mother, Crown Princess Mary and, of course, the Duchess of Sussex. But we often forget that Kate also loves to dress up like she’s in Downton Abbey, which used to be one of her favorite shows. That’s the vibe Kate gave me in these photos – Edwardian cosplay, Lady Mary vibes. Kate wore a new £3,000 Erdem suit and a diamond Prince of Wales three-feather brooch (which looks a lot like a fleur-de-lis). Apparently, King Charles gave it to Kate as a gift. Interesting. Charles used to “give” his PoW-branded stuff to his mistresses. I doubt that’s the case here. Anyway, I really dislike Kate’s ensemble. All of that money for something that looks like a cheap Downton costume.

Queen Camilla’s outfit is by Fiona Clare, and she wore an unsecured Philip Treacy hat which she had to hold onto in the wind. The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh were there too – if anything, Sophie’s the one doing Meghan cosplay. What is with Sophie’s wreath brooch?

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

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Ngozi Fulani stepping down as Sistah Space’s CEO, she still hasn’t gotten an apology

At Queen Camilla’s first big Buckingham Palace reception, her lady-in-waiting/companion Lady Susan Hussey barraged Ngozi Fulani with a racist interrogation. What followed was somehow, incredibly, even worse. Fulani reported what happened publicly and the palace lied about contacting Fulani with an apology, then they allowed Hussey to “resign.” Then silence – the palace left Fulani out in the cold, where the British racists and British media began smearing her, ripping her life apart and threatening the work she did at Sistah Space. Queen Camilla still didn’t do a f–king thing when the charity commission suddenly launched an investigation into Fulani, one of the most obvious “punishments” designed for a woman who reported her treatment by the racist establishment.

Seventeen days after the inciting incident, the palace finally arranged for a “sit down” between Hussey and Fulani. The palace made a big splashy statement about Hussey offering “her sincere apologies for the comments that were made and the distress they caused to Ms Fulani” (I’m sorry you were offended!) and Hussey “pledged” to try not to be so racist anymore. The palace also noted that Fulani “accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended.” The palace’s statement went on to treat Hussey and Fulani like they were equally at fault and equally victims. Well, that was nearly three months ago. Now Ngozi Fulani has announced that she’s stepping away from Sistah Space because the racist abuse has been too much, and by the way, the palace still hasn’t apologized to her:

Black charity boss Ngozi Fulani is stepping down as CEO of Sistah Space, blaming racist abuse she received following the Buckingham Palace race row. The activist said the charity for Black women survivors of domestic abuse had suffered as a result of the row, which saw senior royal aide Lady Susan Hussey, 83, interrogate her about where she was “really from?” at an event in November.

Ms Fulani told Good Morning Britain that she had been subjected to “violence” following the incident and claimed the palace hadn’t done anything to help. Sistah Space was “forced to temporarily cease” many of its operations in December after Ms Fulani spoke out about her treatment by Lady Hussey, who later resigned as a royal aide.

“I’ve now temporarily stepped down as CEO of Sistah Space,” Ms Fulani announced on Wednesday. “Sistah Space charity has suffered as a direct result (…) because of this incident, violence has been directed to me. The palace hasn’t intervened – I think they could have. (…). The service users and the community can’t access us properly. This whole thing has cost us a fortune because we had to pay our own PR to stop the press from coming up, it was horrible.”

A royal source said these [palace pledges] have all been honoured by the palace but Sistah Space disputes this. Moreover, Ms Fulani insisted that she has yet to receive an apology directly from the palace and suggested that royal remorse over the incident was merely referenced in the statement.

“I’m just making the point so that everybody understands what is so hard to say I’m sorry,” Ms Fulani added. “You sent me the invitation so you know how to find me. You know how to say sorry. If you’re sorry then say sorry, if you’re not, I get it. But when you make this apology to everybody, I don’t know who you’re apologising to.”

[From The Independent]

Don’t get me wrong, I know why Fulani agreed to that stupid palace photo-op with Susan Hussey – Fulani had been attacked, smeared and abused for seventeen days after she reported the racist treatment she was subjected to at the palace. She wanted it to stop and she believed that meeting and that photo-op would stop it. She seems to be saying that she didn’t have approval over the palace’s “they’re BOTH victims” statement, which I also believe. The palace grossly mishandled this from the beginning and the Windsors’ refusal to deal directly and sincerely with Ngozi Fulani speaks volumes about how they view her as unimportant and expendable. To make matters worse, Hussey is already back in the royal fold – she’s already back representing King Charles and Queen Camilla, all while Fulani’s life has been ripped apart.

‘I don’t see what is so hard to say I’m sorry.’

We’re joined exclusively by Ngozi Fulani, founder of @Sistah_Space for the first time since the former Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen – Lady Susan Hussey asked her where she was “really from.”

— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 8, 2023

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, YouTube and Buckingham Palace.