How can we expect children to appreciate and understand our rich Naval Heritage when such abject nonsense is abroad?
ADMIRAL NELSON saw off the mighty Franco-Spanish fleet at the battle of
Trafalgar but 200 years on, he has been sunk by a wave of political
Organisers of a re-enactment to mark the bicentenary of the battle next
month have decided it should be between “a Red Fleet and a Blue Fleet”
not British and French/Spanish forces.
Otherwise they fear visiting dignitaries, particularly the French, would
be embarrassed at seeing their side routed.
Even the official literature has been toned down. It describes the
re-enactment not as the battle of Trafalgar but simply as “an early
19th-century sea battle”.
A host of French dignitaries will attend the event, which will take
place off Southsea near Portsmouth, the home of Nelson’s fleet.
The aim is to create a spectacular “son et lumière” re-enactment with
pyrotechnics, lights and effects from barges in the Solent. Tall ships
will create the illusion of a real battle.
But the organisers of the event confirmed last week that there would be
no national “sides”, a fact that has surprised some of the event’s sponsors.
One said: “It seems remarkable that we are not saying this is Britain
versus France in this re-enactment. Surely 200 years on, we can afford
to gloat a bit. Not even the French can try and get snooty about this.”
In the 1805 sea battle off the coast of Spain, Nelson’s 27 ships
destroyed a combined French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships. The British
lost no ships but sank or captured 22 of their opponents’ vessels.
Although Nelson died in the battle, his victory paved the way for
Britain’s naval supremacy, which lasted a century.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Navy said: “This is an illustration and
theatre on water. Nelson is featured, but we are not billing it as
Britain versus France . . . This will not be a French-bashing opportunity.”
The battle will be staged in the evening of the international fleet
review on June 28. The Queen and senior royals will attend the day’s
events and government leaders from 73 countries have been invited.
Also present will be the Argentine navy, which fought the British fleet
in 1982 over the Falkland Islands.