A grand military parade down the Champs Elysées in Paris on Thursday included members of the French army, intelligence services, legionnaires and others for the annual Bastille Day celebrations marking the start of the 1789 French Revolution.
The procession took place under high surveillance this year, with France remaining under an official state of emergency until July 26 in wake of the November 2015 attacks.
“Some 3,000 police officers were mobilised to secure the parade zone,” FRANCE 24's Catherine Norris-Trent reported from the sidelines of the spectacle.
In all, 55 aircraft, 30 helicopters and 212 armoured vehicles made their way down the Champs Elysées to Place de la Concorde, where French President François Hollande surveyed the troops joined by New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Troops from Australia and New Zealand were the guests of honour this year, to commemorate their participation in the 1916 Battle of the Somme, one of the deadliest of the World War I. The highlight of this year's ceremony was the six Maori warriors from New Zealand who paraded in traditional dress and bare feet.
“This is a great opportunity and I’m very proud to be here today,” Dan Booth of the Australian Royal Navy told FRANCE 24. “My grandfather served on the western front in 1917, [but] for a short period [because] he was targeted in a gas attack and had to be repatriated.”
Booth and several more of his countrymen took part in the parade of more than 3,000 men and women on foot and 241 on horseback.
During the summer of 1789, the French were becoming increasingly angry over food shortages and the high taxes needed to fund King Louis XVI’s debt. People began rioting in the capital, whipped into a fury by revolutionary leaders.
Revolutionaries backed by mutinous troops stormed the Bastille on July 14 of that year, in the process looting the fortress of ammunition and freeing several prisoners. Now viewed as the start of the French Revolution, the political turmoil culminated in the assassination of King Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette, and thousands of others.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2016-07-14