120 Years of the Entente Cordiale


French and British troops have swapped roles in the Changing of the Guards ceremonies outside the palaces of each others' Head of State, in an unprecedented move to celebrate 120 years since the signing of the Entente Cordiale.

British and French troops at Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

The Entente Cordiale was a series of agreements signed by France and the United Kingdom in 1904. This was not a formal alliance between the two countries, but served as a basis for a stronger Anglo-French relationship.

Changing of the Guard

Today, French and British troops swapped roles in the Changing of the Guard outside the palaces of the other country's Head of State, in celebration of the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale.

Household Troops have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces since 1660. When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, the Queen's Guard remained at St James's Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today. 

The Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

The Changing of the Guard ceremony marks the moment when the soldiers currently on duty, the Old Guard, exchange places with the New Guard.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh attend Changing of the Guard
Troops at Changing of the Guards

In London, the ceremony was watched by The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, while in Paris, President Macron observed the Parade.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh at the Changing of the Guard

On behalf of The King, The Duke and Duchess inspected 32 members of the 1st and 2nd Infantry regiments of the Garde Republicaine and 40 guardsmen from F Company Scots Guards, lined up opposite their French counterparts.

The Duke of Edinburgh inspects the guard

The event marks the first time a country from outside the Commonwealth has taken part in the Changing of the Guard on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

The Duchess of Edinburgh inspects troops

Last Autumn, The King and Queen undertook a State Visit to France - their first overseas visit following Their Majesties' Coronation in May.

The Queen, The King, President Macron and Madame Macron

Their Majesties were officially welcomed to Paris at the iconic Arc de Triomphe, where a flypast from the Red Arrows and their French Air Force counterparts symbolised the long-standing alliance between the two nations.

The King and President Macron at the Arc de Triomphe

In a speech during the State Banquet at the Palace of Versailles, The King referred to the relevance of the Entente Cordiale today:

The connections between our people are myriad, and represent the lifeblood of our Entente Cordiale, which was inspired by my great great grandfather, King Edward VII. As we look ahead to the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale in 2024, it is incumbent upon us all to reinvigorate our friendship to ensure it is fit for the challenges of this, the 21st Century.

Watch His Majesty's speech in full here:

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