Thursday marks the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. Photo: AFP
Two hundred years ago to the day, Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
The French press have offered fairly light coverage of the bicentenary, perhaps understandable given the ambiguity around Napoleon's legacy, but French daily Le Monde chose the anniversary to send a message across The English Channel.
Considered as the country's newspaper of record Le Monde published an unprecedented English-language editorial on Thursday under the headline “Britain beware, « Brexit » could be your Waterloo!”
Le Monde said it chose to publish the editorial in the language of Shakespeare to ensure its message was really heard.
It explained that after two hundred years, it is time to take a fresh look at what Waterloo actually means.
“Defeat does not come easily to a proud nation.
“On June 18th, 1815, France did not only lose thousands of its brave soldiers on the gory fields of Belgium. It lost an Emperor, whom the English then took into permanent exile on the desolate island of St Helena; it also lost its dream of hegemony.”
The paper then drew on the fact that there has been two centuries of Anglo-French peace, which the paper labelled a “spectacular achievement”.
“Never again have we been at war with each other, except on rugby fields,” it wrote.
“Inevitable skirmishes have happened, at Fashoda and elsewhere, but from Suez to Libya, for better or worse, the Entente Cordiale has prevailed.”
The editorial continued with Le Monde calling on France's British allies “to resist the familiar temptation of splendid isolation”, referring to the fact that British Prime Minister David Cameron will hold an in-out referendum by 2017 to determine whether Britain should remain a member of the EU.
Le Monde then took aim at Ukip leader Nigel Farage, urging the Brits to steer clear of the politician and his policies for an exit from the EU.
“The country which cornered Napoleon cannot succumb to Nigel Farage. Today, we solemnly say to our friends across the Channel: beware, Brexit could be your Waterloo!” it said.
“Messieurs les Anglais, don’t let the sirens of a fake independence pull you away from the continent. Just as in 1815, your future is in Europe.”
Read the full editorial here.