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Feu de joie

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Title: Feu de joie  
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Feu de joie

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 1
    • Alliance with France: Valley Forge, 1778 1.1
    • Independence Day parade: July 4, 1778 1.2
    • A Dauphin is born: West Point, 1782 1.3
    • Empress of India proclamation: Delhi, 1877 1.4
    • Delhi Coronation Durbar for George V, 1911 1.5
    • Coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953 1.6
  • 21st Century 2
    • Queen Elizabeth II 80th Birthday 2.1
    • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee 2.2
    • Canada 2.3
    • Nepal 2.4
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Historical precedents

Alliance with France: Valley Forge, 1778

A spectacular feu de joie ran up and down double lines of infantrymen at 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]

Independence Day parade: July 4, 1778

From his headquarters at Declaration of Independence.

Tomorrow, the Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence will be celebrated by the firing thirteen Pieces of Cannon and a feu de joie of the whole line; the Army will be formed on the Brunswick side of the Rariton at five o'Clock in the afternoon on the ground pointed out by the Quarter Master General. The Soldiers are to adorn their Hats with Green-Boughs and to make the best appearance possible. The disposition will be given in the orders of tomorrow. Double allowance of rum will be served out.[2]
— George Washington, July 4, 1778

A Dauphin is born: West Point, 1782

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.[3]

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 . . . .[4]

Empress of India proclamation: Delhi, 1877

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.[5]

Delhi Coronation Durbar for George V, 1911

During the 1911

External links

  1. ^ Valley Forge description on Son of the South website. Accessed 31 May 2012
  2. ^ Washington, George (July 3, 1778). General Orders. Library of Congress. 
  3. ^ Thacher's Journal, quoted in Reminiscences of West Point in the Olden Time. Accessed 31 May 2012
  4. ^ Recollections of Captain Eben Williams from Sons of the American Revolution website. Accessed 31 May 2012.
  5. ^ Indian History Sourcebook from Fordham University website. Accessed 31 May 2012
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Diamond Jubilee: Guide to the weekend of events BBC News. Accessed 5 June 2012.
  8. ^ Diamond Jubilee: flypast brings celebrations to an end BBC News. Accessed 5 June 2012.
  9. ^ List of Royal Military College of Canada Memorials#Traditions
  10. ^ NA observes Army Day Accessed 18 February 2015.
  11. ^ L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle#India
  12. ^ Ward Profile: Ward No. 31 Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office. Accessed 18 February 2015.


See also

The venue of the celebrations is the Royal Nepal Army Pavilion[12] in Tundikhel, a relatively large open space in the city center is the venue of the Army Day celebration and the events there in.

The Nepal Army performs a feu de joie as part of the Army Day celebrations that coincide with the Hindu festival of Mahashivaratri.[10] The feu de joie is generally performed using the 1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR), a variant of the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle, manufactured in India.[11]


At the Cadet Summer Training Centre Blackdown, as well as Cadet Summer Training Centre Vernon, 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.

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.[9]


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.[7] 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,[8] including the last flying Lancaster bomber in Britain.

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee

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".

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.)

Queen Elizabeth II 80th Birthday

21st Century

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.

Coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953


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