Paris beckons for Whanganui regiment

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PRIDE: Warrant Officer Class One Mario Ropitini and the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles will join the Bastille Day parade along the Champs-Élysèes.
PRIDE: Warrant Officer Class One Mario Ropitini and the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles will join the Bastille Day parade along the Champs-Élysèes.

Whanganui's own Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles will be marching in the French military parade in Paris on Bastille Day.

The unit, part of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps, holds a charter with the city of Whanganui. The charter allows the unit to parade through its streets with "drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed".

But its next outing will be along the Champs-Élysèes.

The Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014, is one of the oldest standing units in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). It has a close relationship with Whanganui, says Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Mario Ropitini, the unit's Regimental Sergeant Major.

"We're incredibly proud of our close relationship with the city of Whanganui, especially since re-establishing our ties during our 150th anniversary in 2014.

"When we parade the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles guidon [pennant] in Paris on 14 July, we're honouring our special connection with the people of Whanganui," says WO1 Ropitini.

The July 14 military parade is one of the oldest and largest military parades in the world. Bastille Day is a French national holiday and is commemorated across the country with military parades and celebratory activities. It marks the anniversary of the French Revolution.

Regimental colours and banners representing New Zealand units that served in World War 1 will be paraded by 86 NZDF personnel on the Champs-Élysèes during the parade. This is the first time that these flags have been paraded together outside of New Zealand.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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