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THE 118-YEAR-OLD Royal Tournament, the traditional showcase for Britain's military, is to be replaced by two new events, the Government announced yesterday.

George Robertson, the Secretary of State for Defence, said the loss-making Earls Court event will be succeeded in 2001 by a military tattoo featuring ceremony, massed bands and pageantry at Horse Guards' Parade in central London. In addition, a military festival will be held each year outside London at varying locations.

Mr Robertson said: "The Royal Tournament has served us well for a great many years but as we approach a new millennium it is necessary to take a fresh look at this event. The Royal Tournament has in recent years lost audiences, money and deepened overstretch in the forces. It is time to re-invent and reinvigorate the shop window of Britain's military mission."

Next year there will be a one-off event as part of the millennium celebrations. The Royal Military Tattoo 2000, to be held at Horse Guards' Parade from 10 to 15 July, will take as its theme "Defence of the Realm: Past, Present and Future".