Today is an historic day for all Brits. Today is the anniversary of our naval victory at the battle of Trafalgar 200 years ago. Well actually it was October 21st, but we’re celebrating today. Or rather we’re not. Apparently it is not politically correct to ‘celebrate’ walloping the combined fleets of the French and Spanish off the coat of Spain, so there will be an event in Portsmouth which has been dubbed a ‘festival’. Pah! I love the english language for its nuances and subtleties, but not when it is used by agents of Nanny to dumb down our most famous victory of all. Ridiculous.
At least such an occasion is bound to warrant extensive TV coverage so I will be able to watch the proceedings. I even stumped up and purchased my TV licence for such a special event- that is another story – but would you believe it: it’s not on telly. There may be a short summary on the news later, but no live coverage. None. A tribute to the most famous naval battle in the world doesn’t even warrant live coverage on the nations flagship broadcaster for which we are compelled to buy a licence!
At the time, the gloss of the victory was taken off for the British ships with the news of Nelsons death. It is hard now to appreciate the effect of this news on the ships crews and on the nation as a whole, although Nelson is still regarded as a national hero in Britain, in 1805 he was THE national hero, and to lose him at the moment of his greatest victory was a bitter blow.
Nelson himself would have been bitter had he known the treatment his beloved Lady Hamilton and his daughter would get from a grateful nation. They were almost completely ignored. Instead the country decided to make Nelson’s brother, William, an earl, and voted him £99,000 with an annual pension of £5,000 a year. Frances, still formally Nelson’s wife, was granted £2,000 a year. Emma and Horatia got nothing. Without the pension from a grateful nation that Nelson had foreseen for her, and always famous for her extravagance, Emma eventually sank into poverty, even spending some time in prison for debt. After her release she went to live with Horatia in Calais and died there in January 1815.
Unbelievable. We still treat our heroes appallingly, even in celebration.
There is an excellent website with full details of the battle at: http://www.trafalgar200.com/