French president Emmanuel Macron invited Swiss authorities to take part in the National Day parade in Paris. This gesture was to thank Switzerland for the help it extended to France during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Swiss hospitals took in patients from France, where there was a shortage of beds.
Health Minister Alain Berset headed the Swiss delegation, which included four members of the army's Flag Guard.
But when these soldiers marched among their French counterparts along the Place de la Concorde, carrying a Swiss flag, their walk was not synchronised and decidedly unmilitary.
While the underwhelming performance is unlikely to cause a diplomatic incident between the two countries, it did spark comments of derision back home in Switzerland.
«Epic fail» de l'armée suisse à Paris https://t.co/HIwPZCheDX
— 20 minutes (@20minutesOnline) July 17, 2020
The headline in the 20 Minutes newspaper described the incident as “Epic fail”, while the Blick's said “Army embarrasses itself at the parade in France”.
“Left foot — right foot — left foot — right foot. Once you get the hang of it, it's not complicated”, the Blick went on to say.
Members of the public took to social media and other online forums to offer their tongue-in-cheek perspectives on the uncoordinated soldiers.
“How embarrassing!” wrote one person on the website of the 20 Minutes. “Swiss army is made up of clowns”.
Another reader remarked that the army should increase its budget by several billion francs so it has resources to teach the troops to march in formation.
“They are just four tourists strolling in Paris,” another person quipped.
Yet another commentator suggested that “Switzerland owes France an official apology”.
Even army spokesman Daniel Reist conceded to the Blick that the march “didn't go as planned”.
You can see the video of the march here.