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Foreign Legion presents white ‘képis’ for first time in Monaco

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Each year, nearly 1,600 volunteers are trained for four months in Castelnaudary, France - © Axel Bastello/ Prince’s Palace

The ceremony was attended by Prince Albert II. 

The Palace square hosted the Képis Blancs (white caps) ceremony for the 2nd Company of Volunteer Legionnaires of the 4th Foreign Regiment of Castelnaudary, on Thursday, April 4. The symbolic event officially marks the volunteers’ enlistment in the Foreign Legion. “They pledge to serve France, for five years, honourably and faithfully, and to adopt their new homeland, France, when they were still civilians 30 days ago,” commented General Cyrille Youchtchenko, Commander of the Foreign Legion (COMLE), on Monaco Info.

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The Foreign Legion is an integral part of the French army, it represents 12% of the operational ground forces (9,500 legionnaires), and its remit is identical. The volunteers may be deployed anywhere France requires.

The ceremony concluded at the Monte-Carlo Bay – © Axel Bastello / Prince’s Palace

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Being a legionnaire requires significant physical and mental attributes, so the selection happens quite naturally, with 20% of the men leaving before they complete their training. The others proudly receive their white képis. “The legionnaire becomes a legionnaire when he first puts on his white képi. It’s a second birth,” Colonel Jean-Dominique Montull, Corps Commander of the 4th Foreign Regiment told the Monegasque TV channel.

The shadow of Prince Louis II, “the Soldier Prince”

The organisers look for symbolic, significant places to ensure the Képis Blancs ceremony is etched forever in the minds of the legionnaires. How does the Principality tick the boxes? “There is an ancestral bond between Monaco and the Foreign Legion. Prince Albert II’s great-grandfather, Prince Louis II, was enlisted in the Foreign Legion. He went on to become a Major General and was enrolled in the 1st Foreign Regiment,” said General Cyrille Youchtchenko.

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“We are on the Rock, and the Legion is also a rock, a rock on which France has been able to lean on for nearly 200 years now,” added Colonel Jean-Dominique Montull.