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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
UK troops join Bastille Day march
British soldiers march in the Bastille parade
Some 200 UK military personnel took part in the parade
British armed forces have led Wednesday's Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time.

They were guests of honour for the march as part of a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale with France.

The Ministry of Defence says almost 200 personnel from four military units were at the parade along the Champs Elysees.

The parade commemorates the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, which started the French Revolution.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, and the three service chiefs of staff were in Paris for the parade, alongside French President Jacques Chirac and his Cabinet.

Relationship 'recognised'

Mr Hoon said it was an honour for British personnel to be involved in the parade.

He said it was important that the military aspect of the two countries' relationship had been recognised.

"It is a real and vital part of what has brought our two countries together over the last 100 years," he said.

Jets perform a flyover of the Bastille march
Air force flyovers opened and closed the parade

French Air Force jets performed a flyover to open the parade, while the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force's aerobatic team, performed one to close it.

The Grenadier Guards - who fought in the battle of Waterloo - marched at the head of the parade.

The focus this year has been on friendlier times, beginning with the Entente Cordiale.

The Queen visited Paris in April, starting a year of special events to celebrate the centenary of the agreement signed in London in 1904.

Its aim was to settle disputes between the two colonial powers in countries from Morocco to Newfoundland, but it also led to their alliance during the First World War.

Last month Mr Hoon signed agreements with his French counterpart, Michele Alliot-Marie, designed to foster closer military planning between the two countries.

The BBC's Allan Little
"The British have been asked to take part before, but they've never been asked to lead the parade"

The Queen in France: In pictures
07 Apr 04  |  In Pictures

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