Monday, January 15, 2007

Vive la reine! Who would have thought that the land of sauteed frog's legs and bouillabaisse would propose marriage with the island mostly known for burnt roast beef and "pies" with meat and vegetables in them. Yes, that's right: France once proposed entering the United Kingdom, in 1956, according to documents in the British National Archives. The AP reports:

[British PM] Eden rejected the idea of a union but was more favorable to a French proposal to join the Commonwealth, according to the documents. One document added that [French PM] Mollet ''had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of her Majesty (Queen Elizabeth II).''

While the two nations -- separated by a thin body of water -- have been bitter rivals since the Middle Ages, the two EU partners now concentrate on trading tourists rather than arrows. What animosity remains has been relegated to world culinary name-calling, with the French and British reduced to froggies and rosbifs (roast beef) respectively.


But even under the circumstances, the suggestion that France accept the British queen struck historians as bizarre.

Mollet was a Socialist, and left-wing Frenchmen looked to the execution of French King Louis XVI as one of the crowning achievements of the French Revolution. They would have been unlikely to welcome a foreign monarch with open arms. ''It must have been some kind of eccentric gesture,'' Vinen said.

The former French leader's memoirs showed nothing about the proposal, said Francois Lafon, a history professor at La Sorbonne in Paris and a Mollet biographer. Lafon suggested it was probably a political tactic to pressure the British to firm up their role for the imminent attack on Egypt.


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