As it turns out, Americans don’t like being reminded that British troops once set fire to the White House.
After joking about the anniversary of British troops invading Washington, D.C., and burning the White House in 1814, the British embassy in D.C. apologized Sunday night.
“Apologies for earlier Tweet. We meant to mark an event in history & celebrate our strong friendship today,” read a message posted to the embassy’s official Twitter account.
Here’s the original tweet that set off a backlash:
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time! pic.twitter.com/QIDBQTBmmL
— British Embassy (@UKinUSA) August 24, 2014
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf tweeted a good-natured reply:
— Marie Harf (@marieharf) August 24, 2014
But a minor backlash had already been stirred up.
— Imogen Lloyd Webber (@illoydwebber) August 25, 2014
It’s hard to find anyone who’s a bigger Anglophile than I am, but this seems in very poor taste. pic.twitter.com/FmxezZu8FY
— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) August 24, 2014
Of course, some people thought it was funny, and that the embassy shouldn’t have caved to the politics of outrage.
V. annoying that the British embassy (@UKinUSA) felt pressured into apologizing for a funny tweet. Stand behind your jokes, Britannia!
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) August 25, 2014
Disappointed that Brit embassy has apologised for its White House gag http://t.co/KypFdXEGMg This is how empires are lost.
— Rob Crilly (@robcrilly) August 25, 2014
Which all goes to show: Once you tweet a photo of a sparkler-festooned cake commemorating the sacking of another country’s seat of power, the Internet just doesn’t want to let it go.