The best of friends
Posted on April 14th, 2017
At a time when British newspapers rail against the European Union, blaming France and Germany for all Britain’s self-inflicted economic and social ills, the French media have adopted a more considered and adult approach.
It was not always so, for in 1901 France experienced a wave of anglophobia. It was the time of the Second Boer War of 1899-1902 and Britain was holding Boer women and children in inhumane concentration camps. The French were incensed, so after Queen Victoria died in January 1901 their anger was directed towards the new King Edward VII. When the French satirical newspaper l’Assiette au Beurre published the cartoon above, the King was quick to complain to the French ambassador, Paul Cambon. The French Government prosecuted the newspaper for “insults to good morals” and ordered all copies be removed from newsstands. The publishers responded by printing a new edition with the offending face covered by a blue skirt, whereupon the prosecutor dropped the case.
The artist responsible for the caricature, Jean Veber, maintained his condemnation of British conduct in the Transvaal with a special edition of l’Assiette au Beurre:
It is estimated that 28,000 Boers died in the camps of starvation, disease or exposure. Children under sixteen represented more than 22,000 of these deaths.