Bastille Day erupts: Riot police drag protesters away as they heckle Macron during parade

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined Emmanuel Macron for the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, which this year honoured European military cooperation. As Mr Macron was riding by at the start of the parade, he was greeted by people in the crowds who turned their backs, booed and whistled. Before the parade, he delivered a message to the French people and said he wanted to highlight France’s “irrevocable commitment to consolidate French and European security”. 

He said: “Never since the end of the Second World War has Europe been so necessary. 

“The construction of a Europe of defence, in connection with the Atlantic Alliance … is a priority for France. It is the theme of this parade.

“Acting together and strengthening our ability to act collectively is one of the challenges that the European Intervention Initiative, along with other key European projects, wants to address.”

But some “Yellow Vest” protesters were detained near the Champs Elysees as they tried to stage a protest, according to French police.

Authorities had banned all yellow vest protests around the area, but several demonstrators managed to get on the avenue.

Weekly demonstrations by yellow vest protesters, who named themselves after the high-visibility jackets they wear and mostly over the cost of living, are said to have dwindled to just a few hundred people over the past few weeks.

Back in November, there would be crowds of around 300,000 protesting every Saturday.

After riding down the Champs Elysees boulevard in a military vehicle escorted by motorcycles and a cavalry procession, Mr Macron joined other European leaders.

This included Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

The parade also featured drones, miniature autonomous vehicles, soldiers armed with anti-drone guns, and what looked like a “flying soldier” – a man swishing in the air on a flyboard, drawing cheers from the leaders and spectators.

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, one of the key events of the French Revolution and has become a national holiday in France.

Around 4,300 soldiers, around 200 vehicles and more than 100 aircraft, some from other European countries, are taking part in the parade that was opened by Spanish troops.

The day is known for the phrase “liberty, equality and fraternity” to be used during celebrations.

Festivities are not just held in France but around the world where French nationals live.

Large events are also held in South Africa, the USA, Belgium and Hungary.

Mr Macron’s European Intervention Initiative is a 10-country coalition of European militaries ready to react to crises and the French-led initiative, which includes Germany, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, was launched last year.

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