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UK celebrates Trafalgar anniversary

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Britain is today marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar with a series of events around the country and a wreath-laying ceremony off Cape Trafalgar itself. Her Maj will take luncheon aboard HMS Victory on Portsmouth and later light the first of a series of 1,000 beacons around the country to honour those who royally thrashed a combined French and Spanish fleet back in 1805.

Naturally, the BBC is giving the whole thing plenty of coverage, and offers a timetable of events which kicked off this morning when Second Sea Lord Sir James Burnell-Nugent laid two wreaths aboard Victory - one on the deck and one where Nelson is reckoned to have popped his clogs after rather ill-advisedly getting shot by a French sniper as Victory tangled with the Redoubtable.

The BBC also offers a 360° view of Victory's main and lower gun decks, and there's more on the vessel at the Navy's official website. The Senior Service also has a Trafalgar 200 site where you can get up to speed on what's happening over the next couple of days.

In London, meanwhile, the National Maritime Museum's Nelson exhibition runs until 13 November and if you're in the capital you can check out Turner's The Fighting Temeraire at the National Gallery - currently its featured painting of the month and recently voted the UK's favourite canvas.

And quite right too, because history records that it was the Temeraire which probably saved Victory from boarding when it gave the Redoutable a terrible pasting at almost point-blank range. Those of a historical bent can get a blow-by-blow account of the battle here. As for us, we're off to sink a few pints in Nelson's honour and we hope that every Englishman will likewise do his duty this afternoon. ®

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