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British, French troops march in historic joint parades in London and Paris in a show of solidarity

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LONDON: French troops joined their British counterparts in the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace for the first time Monday, marching together in a display of solidarity between Britain and France amid the war in Ukraine.

At a parallel ceremony in Paris, British soldiers donned tall bearskin hats to take part in an unprecedented joint military parade in front of the presidential Elysee Palace, as the French army choir sang the two national anthems, “God Save the King” and “La Marseillaise.”

The twin events were to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale, the 1904 diplomatic agreement between Britain and France that paved the way for their collaboration in both World War I and World War II.

In a video message posted on social media on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the alliance was a foundation for deepening Anglo-French relations particularly at a time of the return of war.

“Our Entente Cordiale remains as relevant as ever,” Macron said. “Faced with the resurgence of war in Europe, we stand together to defend the values we share and to support Ukraine as it defends itself against its aggressor.”

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie inspected the joint parade, which included 32 members of the Gendarmerie’s Garde Republicaine and 40 guardsmen from the Scots Guards. King Charles III, who is continuing his cancer treatment, was not at Buckingham Palace. It was the first time a country that isn’t part of the Commonwealth group of nations has taken part in the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony, though the French troops did not participate in guarding the royal residence – a ceremonial duty that can only be performed by U.K. or Commonwealth troops. In Paris, 16 members of the Coldstream Guards were the first foreign troops ever to take part in guarding the French presidential residence.

Britain and France said Monday’s ceremonies were part of a wider program this year to celebrate the two countries’ historic military and diplomatic ties. This includes major events in Normandy in June to commemorate the service of Allied veterans who fought to liberate France from Nazi occupation.

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