- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2005

PORTSMOUTH, England (Agence France-Presse) — Britain celebrated the 200th anniversary of Adm. Horatio Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar yesterday with thousands of events marking the historic fight.

Queen Elizabeth II led 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 was killed during the battle.

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

At the admiral’s tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, First Sea Lord Adm. Alan West laid a wreath during a service.

Earlier, at noon, bells tolled on Royal Navy ships around the world to mark the moment Nelson went into battle.

The ceremonies began with Nelson’s famous signal to his fleet, “England expects that every man will do his duty,” being hoisted once more above his flagship.

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

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

Meanwhile, off the southeastern Spanish coast, ships of the British, French and Spanish fleets dropped wreaths into the sea on the site where their forebears clashed.

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 Nelson’s Column in London’s famous Trafalgar Square tomorrow, followed by a remembrance service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Nelson’s tomb holds pride of place in the crypt that also contains the grave of fellow Napoleonic war hero Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, and a memorial to World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

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 London’s riverbanks in 1806.

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


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