Grenadier Guards lead Bastille day parade

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 14 (AFP) - British troops marched down the Champs-Elysees as the guests of honour for the annual Bastille Day parade on Wednesday, as France and Britain celebrated the 100th anniversary of the colonial-era Entente Cordiale.

PARIS, July 14 (AFP) - British troops marched down the Champs-Elysees as the guests of honour for the annual Bastille Day parade on Wednesday, as France and Britain celebrated the 100th anniversary of the colonial-era Entente Cordiale.  

French President Jacques Chirac opened the colourful proceedings on a brilliantly sunny day by riding down the famed avenue in a open car with his armed forces chief of staff, General Henri Bentegeat, and reviewing the troops.  

After the playing of La Marseillaise and a series of flyovers, more than 100 of Queen Elizabeth II's celebrated Grenadier Guards - wearing their ceremonial red tunics and high black hats - opened the parade of ground troops.  

Members of the Household Cavalry and the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery also marched down the Champs-Elysees, lined with tricolour flags. The Red Arrows from Britain's Royal Air Force flew over to close the parade.  

The Bastille Day parade featured more than 300 military vehicles, about 100 aircraft and nearly 4,000 military personnel, including members of the French Foreign Legion and other army, navy and air force units.  

Entitled "From Entente to Concord", the parade was one of a series of events marking the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, the agreement that ended the historic cross-Channel rivalry and opened an unprecedented era of friendship.  

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon attended the event, one of the last annual military parades in the Western world, as a guest of honour. He sat in the grandstand at the place de la Concorde with Chirac and other top French officials.  

After presiding over the parade, Chirac was due to participate in another Bastille Day tradition - a live televised presidential interview - during which he was likely to face tough questions on jobs policy and race crimes.  

The French leader was to use the wide-ranging interview, due to begin at 1:00 pm, to breathe new life into his administration at mid-term, after a series of bruising electoral defeats for his ruling centre-right.  

Chirac was expected to focus on the 2005 budget, economic growth and jobs creation, especially an ambitious five-year social action plan put together by his Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.  

He also was likely to be forced to address his anything-but-cordial relationship with Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who trumped the head of state by giving a sweeping interview to the newspaper Le Monde at the weekend.  

Sarkozy called for profound changes to the controversial 35-hour work week, but aides to Chirac said the head of state would not go as far with his comments.  

Also on the agenda for the Chirac interview will be the hot-button issue of race and hate crimes, particularly after a young French woman admitted Tuesday she had lied about being the victim of a vicious anti-Semitic attack.  

July 14 marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, the event that sparked the French Revolution and led to the toppling of the monarchy and the executions of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette.

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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