Feu de joie

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Troops deliver a feu de joie on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada in 1868 in celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday

A feu de joie (French: "fire of joy") is a celebratory rifle salute, described as a "running fire of guns." As soldiers fire into the air sequentially in rapid succession, the cascade of blank rounds produces a characteristic "rat-tat-tat" effect.

It is used on rare landmark occasions of national rejoicing. During the 18th and 19th centuries, a feu de joie has celebrated a military victory or birthday. In recent years, it has marked the 80th Birthday and Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Historical precedents[edit]

Alliance with France: Valley Forge, 1778[edit]

A spectacular feu de joie ran up and down double lines of infantrymen at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on 6 May 1778 to celebrate the alliance between the newly independent United States of America with France.

The men were placed in specified positions to fire a feu de joie with muskets and cannon—three times three discharges of thirteen cannon. At the first the army huzzaed, "Long live the King of France"; at the second, "Long live the friendly European powers"; and at the third there was a shout, "The American States."[1]

A Dauphin is born: West Point, 1782[edit]

In May 1782 a feu de joie at West Point celebrated the birth of the Dauphin of France, and was witnessed by a Dr. Thacher.

The arbor was, in the evening, illuminated by a vast number of lights, which, being arranged in regular and tasteful order, exhibited a scene vying in brilliancy with the starry firmament. The officers having rejoined their regiments, thirteen cannon were again fired as a prelude to the general feu-de-joie, which immediately succeeded throughout the whole line of the army on the surrounding hills, and being three times repeated, the mountains resounded and echoed like tremendous peals of thunder, and the flashing from thousands of firearms in the darkness of the evening, could be compared only to the most vivid flashes of lightning from the clouds. The feu-de-joie was immediately followed by three shouts of acclamation and benediction for the Dauphin by the united voices of the whole army on all sides.[2]

The same event was also recollected by Captain Eben Williams:

At a given signal, a running fire began at the south end of the line and extended along the west side of the river to the north end, when the feu-de-joie was caught by the troops on the opposite side of the river and carried south. Thus did the rattle of musketry three times make its distant circuit along the Hudson . . . .[3]

Empress of India proclamation: Delhi, 1877[edit]

Queen Victoria's proclamation as Empress of India in Delhi on 1 January 1877 was followed by a feu de joie described by Field Marshal Lord Roberts.

A salute of one hundred and one salvos of artillery was fired, with a feu-de-joie from the long line of troops. This was too much for the elephants. As the feu-de-joie approached nearer and nearer to them, they became more and more alarmed, and at last scampered off, dispersing the crowd in every direction.[4]

Delhi Coronation Durbar for George V, 1911[edit]

During the 1911 Delhi Coronation Durbar of King George V, a feu de joie followed the 101-Gun Salute during the State Entry ceremony on 12 December 1911.[5]

Coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953[edit]

Numerous feux de joie were performed to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth on 2 June 1953. These ranged from elaborate ceremonies at home and in Europe, to a "combat" feu de joie in Korea.

21st Century[edit]

Queen Elizabeth II 80th Birthday[edit]

As part of Elizabeth II's 80th birthday celebrations, a spectacular feu de joie occurred on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace on 17 June 2006 following the RAF flypast after Trooping the Colour. (Although there was a feu de joie outside the Commonwealth buildings in Berlin, 1953 to mark her coronation, this was the first feu de joie during Her Majesty's reign to be performed in her presence.)

A cascade of rounds was fired by the Old Guard, the New Guard and six Half Companies of Street-Liners in the Forecourt of the Palace. The cascades of blank gunshots were interspersed with the National Anthem, God Save the Queen. After the feu de joie the troops on the Forecourt laid down their weapons, removed their headgear and gave "Three Cheers for Her Majesty The Queen".

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee[edit]

On 5 June 2012 a weekend of celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II culminated in a feu de joie given at Buckingham Palace.[6] This followed a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, reception at Mansion House, a luncheon given in her honour by the Livery at Westminster Hall, and a balcony appearance with flypast by the Red Arrows and historic aircraft,[7] including the last flying Lancaster bomber in Britain.

Canada[edit]

The Royal Military College of Canada also performs a feu de joie on the annual graduation parade where the graduates are commissioned. The feu de joie is performed with 500 C7 rifles on average.[8]

At the Cadet Summer Training Centre Blackdown, cadets from Alpha Company (Drill & Ceremonial Instructor Course) perform a feu de joie in the camp's annual "Sunset Ceremony." This is performed with Lee Enfield No.4 rifles.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Valley Forge description on Son of the South website. Accessed 31 May 2012
  2. ^ Thacher's Journal, quoted in Reminiscences of West Point in the Olden Time. Accessed 31 May 2012
  3. ^ Recollections of Captain Eben Williams from Sons of the American Revolution website. Accessed 31 May 2012.
  4. ^ Indian History Sourcebook from Fordham University website. Accessed 31 May 2012
  5. ^ John Fortescue, Narrative of the Visit to India of Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary, and of the Coronation Durbar held at Delhi, 12 December 1911 (London: Macmillan, 1912), p. 181. Accessed 31 May 2012
  6. ^ Diamond Jubilee: Guide to the weekend of events BBC News. Accessed 5 June 2012.
  7. ^ Diamond Jubilee: flypast brings celebrations to an end BBC News. Accessed 5 June 2012.
  8. ^ List of Royal Military College of Canada Memorials#Traditions

External links[edit]