10 December 2007

Some people are never satisfied

France will today request the return to French soil of the remains of its last emperor and first president, Napoleon III. After lying ignored in a crypt in an English abbey for 120 years, the exiled emperor's ashes are suddenly the subject of a French ministerial delegation intent on repatriating them to the republic he helped bring about.

Christian Estrosi, the French secretary of state for overseas territories, said: "This trip will be for me an occasion to send a clear message to the British, to thank them for all they did for the imperial couple in exile, but also to remind them that we have some rights over them."
But Mr Estrosi, who will visit St Michael's Abbey, Hampshire, to request the return of the ashes, may receive a frosty reception from the abbey's Benedictine monks. They say the French disowned their former leader and continue to ignore his legacy.
In a statement to the French people, Abbot Cuthbert Brogan, who runs the abbey, said: "Unlike the English, who are very interested in the memory of your last emperor, not a single French person comes and meditates at the crypt where his remains lie.
"I hope that your overseas minister is coming to ask for forgiveness. It's the least he can do in terms of politeness because you, the French, attach great importance to politeness."
Commenting on Mr Estrosi's intention to spend 10 minutes in silent reverence by the tomb, the abbot went on: "Ten minutes for a silence of 120 years! They are not interested in the remains at all.
"What do you think of someone who has shown no interest in someone for much of his life and who suddenly claims, more than a century later, that the body belongs to him?"
- Daily Telegraph, 10 December 2007
[Hang on Mr Abbot, just a moment ago you said that no-one from France ever came to pay their respects.  And now one does, a secretary of state no less, and now ten minutes isn't enough? You're a hard abbot to please...]

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