Leading article: Let it flow

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The Independent Online

It's the dream of every free-born Englishman. French wine on tap – white, red or rosé. And now it's about to come true, courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces, with a new wine fountain in Hampton Court, reconstructed from the Tudor original.

Trust royalty and its palace preservers to ignore the killjoys of the police and the nay-sayers of the medical profession, complaining of the British thirst for alcohol, their debauched nights and drunken revelries by day. That's not the spirit, nor the alcohol, that made Britain great and led the Tudors to forge our national identity. It's certainly not the spirit which had Henry VIII build a temporary wine fountain for his meeting with Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a picture of which forms the model for Hampton Court's facility.

But then Henry was in France, keen to show that the English still had possessions there and had long-ruled Gascony, from whence the wine liberally flowed, and from whence Hampton Court will now get its supplies. Shame on them. England today has its own wines, and very good they are. Great Harry wouldn't have offered foreign drink where there was an English replacement. And, by the way, the Tudors offered the wine free of charge to their citizens.

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