LETTER : Awry Royal recollection

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The Independent Online
From Mr K Thomas

Sir: "It is not what is done that counts, but the acknowledgement of the royal presence," explains Judith Kark (Section Two: "From getting out of a car to wearing an evening gown: dos and don'ts for a would-be royal", 15 February). Not so.

In 1870, no fewer than 18 battalions of republicanly minded troops from Paris had to be sent home from the French army being assembled at Chalons for the relief of Metz. Whereas all the other battalions responded to the presence of the Emperor with the traditional Napoleonic cry "Vive l'Empereur!", these particular battalions greeted the imperial person with "Un, deux, trois, merde!" chanted in unison.

Yours faithfully,

K Thomas

London, W13