On this day each year my French partner and I usually sit in front of the box and watch the parade taking place in Paris. To start with, this year was no different; I enjoy watching this almost as much but not quite, as I enjoy watching the Trooping of the Colour on the birthday of the Sovereign on British Television.
So there we were all settled and we sat through a parade of all the various military schools from all three arms of the French armed forces, the police and fire service followed by regular units of the Army, Navy and Air Force among many others including an American contingent. Then came a change of pace with the arrival of the French Foreign Legion led by the Pioneers sporting fine beards, wearing their buffalo skin aprons, armed with a large axe resting on their shoulders and marching at their traditional 88 beat per minute pace. This was the part of the parade we really had been looking forward to, in part because my partner’s father had served as a Legionnaire. The Pioneers were then followed by the band, then zilch! The cameras moved to a shot of a number of helicopters in formation, not doing anything spectacular, just flying, which is what they are meant to do. This scene was interspersed with shots of Paris taken from one of the helicopters and seemingly unconnected with the parade. This went of for about ten minutes then the cameras switched back to the parade, showing mobile units of the armed forces, the units of the Legion that we hoping to see had long gone.
The question is, why were we not allowed to see the various elite units of the French Foreign Legion as we have every other year? Depriving the viewing public of this part of the parade was akin to chopping the SAS, the Paras or Royal Marines out of one of our own parades.
I certainly have no idea why this was allowed, or indeed directed to happen and just wonder if there is anyone out there who can throw light on the matter. We switched through a number of other channels but they were all showing the same mundane shots of the helicopters.