British Embassy Apologizes After Joking About Burning Down White House

Too soon? Sunday marked 200 years since British troops set the White House ablaze during the War of 1812. The British embassy in Washington, D.C., celebrated being the only country to have ever burned down the U.S. president's home by tweeting a photo of a cake adorned with a miniature White House and lighted sparklers.

America's closest ally may have intended the cheeky tweet to be lighthearted, but many felt 200 years was still too soon to joke about such things. The immediate backlash prompted the embassy to backpedal. First they retweeted a U.S. State Department spokeswoman who had tweeted the embassy's cake photo with the caption: "The difference 200 years can make in foreign relations." Then it tweeted that the day was a celebration of the U.S. and U.K. working "together shoulder to shoulder." Hours later, the embassy finally buckled and tweeted an apology for its missed attempt at laughing about the past.

The apology included a link to a Huffington Post piece written days earlier by Patrick Davies, the embassy's deputy ambassador to the U.S. In the essay, Davis mentioned that President Barack Obama had joked with British Prime Minister David Cameron about the redcoats' torching the White House during a 2012 visit. "Needless to say, we've put the events of August 1814 far behind us," he wrote. Maybe not so needless after all.


--Jillian Sederholm