Charles_HRH’s Guide To Great Britishness: ‘Nelson, Harold, and a bloody big scarf’
October 24, 2014, Article by Richard in Books
In this extract from the Charles_HRH’s Guide to Great Britishness (from the wildly popular twitter parody), his royal highness talks us through Britain’s big fat history of war…
The history of Great Britain is filled with triumphs and disasters and nearly as many wars as America has had in the last ten years. This being said, Great Britain should never be considered to be a warmongering country, as it’s always someone else’s fault. As a general rule, if it happened prior to 1945 and it involved killing people, you can bet your Crown Jewels that Britain was involved.
The following contains scenes of violence, which some readers may find disturbing…
Great Britain has been invaded more times than one’s had bacon sandwiches. Fortunately for us, every invader mysteriously became English when they took over, thus leaving England undefeated. This was particularly lucky in the year 1066, when the bloody French won their first (and last) war against England.
The Battle of Hastings is the only blemish on an otherwise spotless record of military supremacy. Many historians have described it as the worst defeat ever for the English, although they clearly haven’t witnessed us playing a football match in the last forty years. The odd thing is that one isn’t sure what Hastings was like in 1066, but it’s certainly not worth fighting over now, that’s for sure.
The invading Norman army were led by William the Conqueror, although of course he hadn’t conquered anything then, so he was actually called William the Ugly Bastard. By middle age, he had become William the Fat Bastard.
During a quiet lull in battle, our ruler King Harold II was playing a quick game of I-spy, but failed to guess the ‘something beginning with A’ was actually a bloody sharp arrow fired by the Norman army that hit him directly in the eye. That’ll teach him for leaving his glasses on the bedside table. He was severely wounded and, despite people telling him not to, he made it worse by frantically rubbing it, and died on the battlefield. He really should’ve gone to Specsavers.
Scenes from this battle are famously depicted on a 41/2-mile long scarf, knitted by sexually frustrated French art students five years after the battle took place, and is on display in Bayeux, France.
Battle of Trafalgar
Horatio Nelson was Great Britain’s greatest naval hero who beat the French, Spanish and Danish fleets and still had enough energy to grapple with his mistress, Emma Hamilton,on his days off.
The French and Spanish prepared an invasion fleet of 33 ships, with 14,000 crew. During their voyage they met face to face with the greatest defence to ever exist: the British weather.
Nelson is commemorated in London’s Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s Column, which stands magnificently at 46 metres in the centre of the square. Originally, the four lions standing guard on each corner were real, right up to 1973, when they were stolen by Sir David Attenborough and replaced by statues. Upon the column’s unveiling, in a fit of bravado and excitement, Nelson climbed up the column as part of a stunt. Unfortunately, with no clear way down, there he stayed.
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo is considered to be the greatest victory over the French, closely followed by Sir Bradley Wiggins’s triumph in the Tour de France in 2012.
On 18 June 1815, a little after 2 p.m., the Duke of Wellington was just polishing off his ploughman’s lunch, when Napoleon Bonaparte, a short French emperor who actually stopped growing at the age of nine, launched a surprise attack on Hougoumont Farm.
Wellington, who had intended to ride down to the farm and purchase some milk for his Earl Grey, was enraged to the point of using bad language (i.e. French). The French clearly failed to learn a valuable and important lesson the first time, ten years earlier at the Battle of Trafalgar: never come between an Englishman and his afternoon cup of tea.
On a boggy marshland outside of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington chose his position carefully – a steep ridge that allowed his troops to peer down on the beautiful French women in the enemy camp. Somehow, this inspired the English to win the battle.
Maybe if Napoleon had chosen to rule a country with a higher success rate in winning things, he might have actually been victorious. Trust a Frenchman.
Second World War
Two World Wars, one World Cup, doo dah.
The Second World War was started due to Adolf Hitler’s wish for world domination; something that One Direction are obsessed with today.
Hitler was clearly a nutcase from the very start, supported only by the forced German nation and the Daily Mail. Great Britain was on to him from the very beginning and made it clear that we wouldn’t stand for his evil empire building and silly moustache. France signed up to the war thinking it was a six-year wine-tasting class, totally unaware of the dangers ahead. Going to war without that lot is like going to war without your accordion.
Despite the best efforts of the von Trapp family, Britain declared war against Germany in 1939, but the French army, finally twigging what was going on, conveniently forgot how to fire their weapons. They bravely retreated to fight another day, except they also forgot to fight another day and were subsequently captured. It has to be said though that French engineers were innovators in building armoured vehicles. Each French tank was equipped with five gears; four to reverse out of battle and one going forward in case they were attacked from the rear.
Without help from anyone else, Great Britain was forced to single-handedly stop the advance of the Nazis by using one of the most technologically advanced defensive features of that period: the English Channel. And try as they might, the Germans were unable to break Londoners’ spirits during the Blitz. Good job they didn’t have a snow machine.
The war reached a climactic peak on 6 June 1944, when Allied forces landed on the shores of Normandy. This event, known as D-Day, marked the only time in history that the British got to the beach before the Germans.
Eventually, with some reluctant help from the USA and Russia, Great Britain brought the Third Reich to its knees and liberated France just as they finished learning the words to the German national anthem. Not that they’ve ever said thanks properly.
In April 1945, Hitler made his only sensible decision of the war and committed suicide in his bunker. Germany surrendered and took little comfort in the famous Winston Churchill speech where he told them it wasn’t the winning, but the taking part that counted. Despite turning up late, the United States tried claiming victory, but due to the time difference between London and Washington, Great Britain had already claimed this several hours earlier.
Charles_HRH’s Guide to Great Britishness is out now!
Follow his royal highness here: twitter.com/charles_hrh