Republican Guard (France)

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Garde républicaine
Blason paris 75.svg
Active 1848-present
Country Flag of France.svg France
Branch National Gendarmerie
Type Infantry,
Cavalry
Role Honour Guard,
Security
Size 3.200
Garrison/HQ Paris
Motto La Garde meurt mais ne se rend pas ("The guard dies but it does not surrender")
March Défilé de la Garde Républicaine
Decorations Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Légion d'honneur
Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre TOE
For the French Revolution militia, see National Guard (France).

The Republican Guard (French: Garde républicaine) is part of the French Gendarmerie. It is responsible for providing security in the Paris area and for providing guards of honor.

Its missions include:

The close physical protection of the President of France is entrusted to the GSPR (Groupe de sécurité de la présidence de la République), and the SPHP (Service de Protection des Hautes Personnalités); neither is part of the Guard.

The Republican Guard also fulfills an important diplomatic role, representing France at international events abroad and receiving important dignitaries at home.

The Republican Guard is twinned with the Red Guard of Senegal.[1]

The 1st infantry regiment of the Republican Guard during Bastille day.
Cavalry of the French Republican Guard - Bastille Day 2008 celebrations

History[edit]

The Republican Guard is the heir of the various bodies that preceded it in the course of French history whose task was to honor and protect the high authorities of the State and City of Paris : Gardes Françaises of the Kings, Consular and Imperial guard of Napoleon, etc.. Its name derives from the Municipal Guard of Paris, established on 12 Vendémiaire XI (October 4, 1802) by Napoleon Bonaparte. It distinguished itself in battles of historical significance, including Danzig and Friedland in 1807, Alcolea in 1808 and Burgos in 1812.

In 1813 it was dissolved following the attempted coup of General Malet and replaced by the Imperial Gendarmerie of Paris and then, under the Restoration, the Royal Guard of Paris and the Royal Mounted Police of Paris. In 1830, it was recreated, and again removed after the Revolution of 1848 in favor of the Civic Guard (which proved to be a transient institution).

June 1848 saw the creation of the Republican Guard of Paris, including an infantry regiment and a regiment of cavalry. It received its insignia July 14, 1880. It took part in the First World War and saw its flag and banner decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honour. During the Second World War, it reported to the police headquarters and took the name of Guard of Paris. Part of its staff rallied to General de Gaulle and the Guard was involved in the fighting alongside the FFI at the liberation of Paris.

In 1952, the guard was renamed the Legion of the Republican Guard of Paris and took part in the Indochina War, which earned it the Croix de Guerre.

In 1978, the guard took its current name of "Republican Guard." President Giscard d'Estaing gave, on 11 November 1979, its new insignia. Michele Alliot-Marie, Minister of Defence, said in October 2002: "The Republican Guard has a popularity that transcends borders," it contributes "to the splendour of the French military and France."[2]

Organization[edit]

Republican guard in front of the Elysée palace
Brazilian president Lula reviewing the Republican Guard.

The Republican Guard belongs to the French National Gendarmerie. It is made up of 3200 men and women (drawn from an overall body of 105,000 gendarme). As a historically Parisian organization, the guards wear the armorial bearings of the city on their uniforms.

It consists of two infantry regiments (one includes a motorcycle squadron) and a horse cavalry regiment. It also has four musical formations, as well as groups demonstrating prowess in horseback or motorcycle maneuvers. The regiment is commanded by a colonel and his staff.

Duty[edit]

“The Republican Guard has a popularity which exceeds the borders,” it contributes “to the prestige of the French Army and France.” (Minister for Defense, October 2002)

Missions of honour[edit]

These ceremonial functions are performed mainly by the First Regiment of Infantry, the Regiment of Cavalry and sometimes by the Second Regiment of Infantry.

Detachments of the cavalry regiment reinforce the two infantry regiments in carrying out ceremonial and security roles in and around state buildings. These include the lining of both sides of the entry stairs of the Elysium or Matignon Palaces (and other buildings) by dismounted cavalry on special occasions. These Republican Guards belong to the Cavalry Regiment and not to the infantry units whose mission is to ensure the security of these palaces and of senior government figures. Certain ceremonial duties in the form of honour guards are performed when state visits are made to the Paris museums or the Opera, as well as at the moment of the descent of the Academicians beneath the cupola of the French Academy.

Formerly, one could hire Republican Guards for private fashionable evenings but this option was terminated by President Giscard d'Estaing.

The Republican Guard is in the direct service of the French State, which explains the removal from its title in 1979 of the reference to the city of Paris. The Republican Guard of Paris became, under President Giscard d'Estaing, simply the Republican Guard.

Special missions[edit]

Some guards are assigned to more specific missions:

  • Security of diplomatic bags entering and leaving the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the airports.
  • Safety of the Tour de France by the motorcycle squadron.
  • One of the more discreet missions of the Republican Guard is the transport of donor-organs intended for transplantation. The squadron motorcyclist is charged to ensure transport of it in order to guarantee the safety of this invaluable cargo and its delivery to the various hospitals in the Paris area. For this purpose, it assists the Agency of Biomedecine, (Seine-Saint-Denis) and carries out some 600 escorts per year.[3]

Regiment of cavalry[edit]

Alain Puligny, colonel of the cavalry regiment of the Republican Guard
Cavalry

Housed in the Caserne des Célestins, Paris, built in 1895-1901, designed by the renowned French architect Jacques Hermant.

The cavalry also includes the Fanfare of Cavalry and the brass band of Cavalry. It also includes more than 500 soldiers and civilians which includes a growing number of women (a little more than 8%). It has approximately 550 horses (11% mares) and remains the last unit of the French Army with horses.

The regiment is composed of:

  • The Centre of Instruction (Goupil district in Saint-Germain-en-Laye),
  • Three squadrons of cavalry (the first is based with the district of Célestins and two others with the Carnot district),
  • A squadron hors rang (based in Célestins) and composed of:
    • Mounted Fanfare and Brass Band
    • horse-shoeing (farriers},
    • veterinary service.

This unit has a section of high level sportsmen, in particular Hubert Perring, dressage champion of France in 2005, and member of the French team for the World Equestrian Games of 2006.

The exhibition drill unit presents four activities:

  • le carrousel des lances (the lancer's Carrousel) ;
  • la maison du Roy (the King's house);
  • la reprise des tandem (the tandem riders);
  • la reprise des douze (the resumption of the twelve) ;

Infantry regiments[edit]

Republican Guard Infantry in ceremonial uniform

The Republican Guard has two regiments of infantry:

  • The first regiment of infantry
    • HQ Band of the Republican Guard
    • Motorcycle Squadron
    • Bayonet Squares Honor Guard and Drill Team
  • the second regiment of infantry

Activities of the Infantry Regiments[edit]

  • Bayonet Squares Honor Guard and Drill Team
  • The Battery Fanfare band
  • The Napoleonic Brass Fanfare Band wearing uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars
  • Emperor's Grenadiers Platoon serving as a reenacting unit

Orchestra of the Republican Guard[edit]

Depending on staff availability, this formation has two main parts:

  • the Orchestra of Harmony (80 musicians)
  • the String Orchestra (40 musicians), likely to be presented in configurations of 24 or 12 bows, or in string quartet

It was founded in 1848 by Jean-George Paulus.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]