French troops guard Buckingham Palace to mark 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale

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The French Garde Républicaine participated in the King's Guard Change ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Monday, April 8, 2024, to mark the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale. Photographer: Petty Officer Joel Rouse UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024. MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

Members of the French Armed Forces made history today as they became the first non-Commonwealth troops to guard Buckingham Palace, marking 120 years of the Entente Cordiale.

The anniversary was also celebrated in Paris, where British military personnel took part in a similar ceremony at the Elysée Palace, the first ever example of a foreign state guarding the French presidential residence.

A total of 32 members of the Gendarmerie’s Garde Républicaine and 40 guardsmen from F Company Scots Guards took part in the Changing of the Guard in London, accompanied by The Band of the Grenadier Guards, who performed both countries’ national anthems.

They were inspected by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders, French Chief of the Army Staff General Pierre Schill and French ambassador to the UK Hélène Duchêne.

Pictured left to right: (on dias) HRH Princess Sophie, The Duchess of Edinburgh, HRH Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh and French ambassador to the UK, Hélène Duchêne. Photographer:
Petty Officer Joel Rouse. UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024. MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

In Paris, 16 soldiers from Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards joined troops from 1er Régiment de la Garde Républicaine to provide the Presidential Guard, accompanied by musicians from the British Army’s Household Division and from the French Army. 

President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Director General of the National Gendarmerie General Christian Rodriguez and Military Governor of Paris General Christophe Abad attended the ceremony.

Defence Secretary Grants Shapps said:

“The Entente Cordiale laid the foundations of a partnership that unites us in defence of our people and our values. 

“As we celebrate the 120th anniversary, our defence alliance and enduring friendship is more important than ever as we work together in support of global peace, security and prosperity, from Ukraine to the Red Sea and beyond.

“The UK and France have never been stronger and together as allies, partners and friends, we will continue to tackle the challenges of a more dangerous world.”

The Entente Cordiale was a series of diplomatic agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the UK and the French Republic, marking the end of centuries of intermittent conflict between the two powers and laying the groundwork for their cooperation during World War I.

The UK-France defence relationship has never been stronger. The UK and French militaries have become more closely integrated through joint training exercises, aircraft carrier deployments and aid operations, as well as a permanent NATO deployment to Estonia, where personnel from both countries are protecting the alliance’s eastern flank.

Defence collaboration extends beyond personnel to the development and maintenance of independent nuclear deterrents and the production of next-generation missiles and anti-mine technology.

This June, the two countries will host commemorations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The events will celebrate the allied liberation of France from Nazi Germany and remind the world of the alliances forged during the World Wars.

France and the UK also remain united in supporting Ukraine, continuing to supply Ukrainian troops with billions of pounds worth of arms and military aid to help them defend and recapture their territory.

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