The Elysée and Buckingham celebrate 120 years of Entente Cordiale with an unprecedented changing of the guard common to both palaces

Bear hair caps, swords and cadenced steps: with an unprecedented changing of the guard between the Elysée and Buckingham Palace, France and the United Kingdom celebrated the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale on Monday April 8

The Elysée and Buckingham celebrate 120 years of Entente Cordiale with an unprecedented changing of the guard common to both palaces

Bear hair caps, swords and cadenced steps: with an unprecedented changing of the guard between the Elysée and Buckingham Palace, France and the United Kingdom celebrated the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale on Monday April 8 .

Signed in 1904, this agreement helped improve relations between France and the United Kingdom after the Napoleonic Wars. It is to this day considered the foundation of the alliance between the two members of NATO, with an often tumultuous friendship.

Grenadiers from the British royal household were involved on Monday, at 9:45 a.m., in the ceremonial changing of the guard in the main courtyard of the Elysée Palace, in the presence of the Head of State and the British Ambassador to France, Menna Rowlings.

The sixteen members of the Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards of the British Embassy, ​​wearing their traditional bearskin, a high fur hat, took part in the relief of their French counterparts from two sections of the 1st Infantry Regiment. The French army choir then sang the two anthems, God Save the King and La Marseillaise. “This is the first time in the history of the Elysée that a foreign troop has been invited to participate in this military ritual,” notes the French presidency.

British premiere

In Buckingham, it is also the first time that a country not a member of the Commonwealth, an association of former English-speaking British possessions, took part in the changing of the guard. In front of the palace of King Charles III, the two anthems were played. The grenadiers of the royal household also played the march L’Entente cordiale, composed more than a hundred years ago by Gabriel Allier to celebrate the agreement between the two countries.

In total, thirty-two members of the Republican Guard of the French gendarmerie and forty members of the Scots Guards took place in front of Buckingham Palace. The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh – Prince Edward, who is the king's youngest brother, and his wife, Sophie –, accompanied by the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hélène Duchêne, inspected the French troops and British, in the presence of the British Chief of Staff, General Patrick Sanders, and the French Chief of Staff, General Pierre Schill.

In the center of the square, the squadron leaders of the two troops shook hands, symbolizing the Entente Cordiale. “While Brexit was voted on and then implemented, while (…) the war returns and our challenges are immense, this Entente Cordiale is in a way the foundation so old but so relevant in our current times which allows us to hold bilateral relationship,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a video posted on X.

“France and the United Kingdom, going through the two world wars and the upheavals of the 20th century, have been able to build a strong bilateral relationship, based on the same democratic ideal, on a common adherence to multilateralism and on a shared vision of our responsibilities and our strategic interests,” recalled Mr. Macron.

“This partnership makes us all safer and stronger.”

“This great partnership makes us all safer and stronger,” said British Defense Minister Grant Shapps. The UK and France will “continue to tackle the challenges posed by a more dangerous world”.

The signing of the Entente Cordiale on April 8, 1904, to settle colonial disputes, is widely seen as paving the way for the union of France and Great Britain against Germany in the First World War.

By extension, it is often the name given to Franco-British relations, regularly marked by antagonisms and tensions. At the end of 2023, Emmanuel Macron once again made public, on the first Tuesday of each month, the changing of the Republican guard in front of the Elysée. This, however, is much less spectacular than that of the Scots Guards in front of the Royal Palace in London.