Britain celebrates Nelson's victory over France

21st October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PORTSMOUTH, England, Oct 21 (AFP) - Britain celebrated the 200th anniversary of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's victory in the Battle of Trafalgar on Friday with thousands of events marking the historic fight.

PORTSMOUTH, England, Oct 21 (AFP) - Britain celebrated the 200th anniversary of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's victory in the Battle of Trafalgar on Friday with thousands of events marking the historic fight.

Queen Elizabeth II was to lead the tribute, lighting a beacon at sunset beside Nelson's preserved flagship HMS Victory in Portsmouth, on the southern English coast, upon which the British war hero died during the battle.

 A total of 1,000 beacons were to be set ablaze across Britain to mark the day the British navy battered a combined French and Spanish fleet and eliminated the threat of invasion.

At 12:00 noon (1100 GMT), bells tolled on Royal Navy ships across the world to mark the moment Nelson went into battle.

Earlier in a solemn remembrance ceremony in lashing rain on Victory's quarterdeck, a wreath was laid on the spot where Nelson was felled by a sniper's bullet.

A second wreath was laid below decks at the place where Nelson later died after hearing he had won the battle for Britain.

Elizabeth was then to dine on board Victory, moored in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy.

First Sea Lord Sir Alan West said Britain was abuzz with Trafalgar Day celebrations.

"I was amazed how it has gripped the spirit of Britain across the country. It's almost a Nelson fever going on," he said.

Second Sea Lord Sir James Burnell-Nugent, who laid the wreaths, said afterwards that it was a special occasion for the Royal Navy, Britain and the world.

"Nelson is a hero in all navies because most countries in the world have been involved in war at sea," he said.

Before the ceremonies, Nelson's famous signal to his fleet, "England expects that every man will do his duty", was hoisted on board the wooden flagship.

Meanwhile in the southern Spanish port city of Cadiz, the thousands of British, French and Spanish sailors who died off the coast of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805 were honoured with a moving homage to the fallen.

The epic Battle of Trafalgar finished the threat of invasion by emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's France and established British naval supremacy for the next century.

Britain did not lose a single ship, while 18 opposing vessels were destroyed.

Colin White, the Royal Navy Museum's deputy director, said the bicentennial tributes had been planned for years.

"This whole year of Trafalgar celebrations has taken off in a way we hadn't even dared to hope it would," he said.

"What has really moved me is the way the whole country has got behind it to celebrate the sea and its importance to us as an island nation."

A spectacular maritime show is planned around the foot of the Nelson Monument in London's famous Trafalgar Square on Sunday, followed by a remembrance service at St Paul's Cathedral, where Nelson's tomb lies.

Last month, the largest procession of boats seen on the River Thames in modern times recreated Nelson's waterborne funeral procession which drew some 100,000 people onto the London riverbanks in 1806.

In June, hundreds of ships from around the world gathered Tuesday off Portsmouth as part of the Trafalgar commemorations, culminating in a battle recreation using replica 19th century ships and a blaze of pyrotechnics.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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