Napoleon's & Nelson's descendants join forces

29th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, July 28 (AFP) - Two descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte and British admiral Horatio Nelson have combined forces to celebrate the battle of Trafalgar, in which Nelson defeated the French fleet in 1805.

LONDON, July 28 (AFP) - Two descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte and British admiral Horatio Nelson have combined forces to celebrate the battle of Trafalgar, in which Nelson defeated the French fleet in 1805.

The great-great-great-grandchildren met Tuesday to announce the launching of an exhibition marking next year's 200th anniversary of the naval engagement. Trafalgar, in which the British Royal Navy defeated a combined Franco-Spanish fleet on October 21, 1805, counts as the greatest defeat of Napoleon's sea power.

Nelson fell during the action, mortally wounded by a French sharpshooter, and died below decks some hours later as victory drew nigh.

Tuesday's encounter brought together Anna Tribe, 74, descendant of the British national hero, and Bernard de Salis, 67, whose forbear was the French emperor. Tribe was brought up in London as a child and now resides in Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire, Wales.

The proud owner of a lock of her ancestor's hair, she recalls her London childhood and seeing the mighty column on Trafalgar Square with the statue of Nelson on top.

"When we went in a No 11 bus round Trafalgar Square I used to wave at Nelson's Column," she said.

Asked about her feelings on meeting a descendant of the mighty ruler who once posed such peril to Britain she jested: "I haven't punched him yet."

Indeed, despite his historic origins de Salis himself saw 20 years' proud service in Her Majesty's Royal Navy, serving with the Fleet in such places as Aden, Borneo and the Pacific.

Despite Gallic origins, his family has been British for generations and now resides in Dorset in southern England.

He admits to never having admitted to his celebrated ancestor in front of the officers' mess.

"It's not something you shouted about when you were in the Royal Navy," he said.

The exhibition, presented in both English and French, opens on July 7 next year at the Royal Maritime Museum in southeast London and closes November 13.

A battle plan drawn up by Admiral Nelson a month before the historic engagement will be on public view for the first time ever.

Also on view will be letters by Napoleon to his first consort, Josephine Beauharnais.

And the private letters of another romantic relationship will also be open to inspection, those of Nelson to his mistress Emma Hamilton. Their affair was one of the spectacularly romantic scandals of the age.

Those particular letters are also of some special importance to his relative Miss Tribe. For she happens to be a descendant of that celebrated liaison.

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article