The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has raised a number of questions, many of them seeking the answer of who should bear ultimate responsibility for the carnage that followed. But another kind of question arose at one of the first of a number of public Great War debates I have attended this year, held in February at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall.
In October 1959 General Charles de Gaulle told his Minister of Information Alain Peyrefitte: ‘We have premised our colonisation since the beginning on the principle of assimilation. We pretended to turn negroes into good Frenchmen. We had them recite, “The Gauls were our ancestors” … [That] was not very bright. That is why our decolonisation is so much more difficult than that of the English. They always admitted that there were differences between races and cultures.’
The visitor to Leeds this summer may be surprised to see the Black Prince, an equestrian statue in the town square of Edward, Prince of Wales, sporting the Maillot Jaune, usually worn by the leader of the Tour de France. Fortunately, there is a simple explanation.
This year marks an intriguing step forward in the revival of baroque opera, which has gathered pace over the past half-century with the use of original instruments played in the style of the time.