In pictures: 100 years later, world remembers end of WWI
Updated: Nov 12, 2018, 08:02 PM(IST)
Under grey skies and gently falling rain, a number of heads of state joined French President Emmanuel Macron in walking the last stretch of the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, where the ceremony was held.
US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of monarchs, princes, presidents and prime ministers joined Macron to mark the moment the guns fell silent across Europe 100 years earlier.
Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Under a glass canopy at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, built by Emperor Napoleon in 1806, Trump, Merkel, Macron, Putin and the other leaders listened through earpieces as the French president spoke.
Paying tribute to fighters
The commemoration marked the centrepiece of tributes to honour those who died during the 1914-18 war and to commemorate the signing of the Armistice that brought the fighting to an end at exactly 11 am on November 11, 1918.
Sunday's events were the culmination for Macron of a week of commemorations of the war, one of the bloodiest in history and one that reshaped Europe's politics and demographics.
Heads of states, governments present
Over 3,400 people, including veterans of the armed forces of France and its allies, were invited to the ceremony, which began with a rendition of the Marseillaise and a review by Macron of cadets from France's military schools.
Cadets from West Point military academy in the US took part in the commemorations, alongside members of France's Republican Guard resplendent in plumed hats and uniforms red epaulettes.
Threat from nationalism
Macron spoke bluntly of the threat from nationalism, calling it a betrayal of moral values.
Trump, who has described himself as a nationalist and has promoted what he calls an "America First" policy, sat a few feet (meters) away, stony-faced.
"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," Macron said. "When we say 'our interests come first, those of others don't matter', we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values."
Members of French Republican Guard
The 90-minute commemoration included the reading by children of letters written by German, French and British soldiers during the war, a recital by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and a moving performance of Maurice Ravel's Bolero.
President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for US soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said. The light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from travelling to the site.
The last minute cancellation prompted widespread criticism on social media and from some officials in Britain and the United States that Trump had "dishonoured" US servicemen.
Topless protesters interrupt Trump's motorcade
Minutes before the start of the ceremony two topless protesters from the radical feminist group Femen attempted to waylay Trump's motorcade as it rolled up the Champs-Elysees. They were immediately overpowered by police.
Rain adds to the solemnity
The rain added to the solemnity of the occasion, with Macron eschewing an umbrella as he remembered the suffering of those who fought in the so-called "war to end all wars" in a speech.