Tweeting an image of a cake adorned with British and American flags, the Embassy staff joked yesterday that it was "commemorating" the destruction of the White House two centuries ago — but it was “only sparklers this time!”
Apparently, diplomats missed the fact that a cake celebrating the destruction of a U.S. national symbol might be viewed by some as a bit -- well, undiplomatic. Some 4,000 retweets later, it became clear: 200 years after the fact, the stateside reaction to the White House blaze anniversary may have cooled down a bit -- but some Americans' feelings about the fire tweet still run hot.
Marie Harf, a spokesman for the State Department, also weighed in on Cakegate. Her reaction: #itsComplicated:
Hours later, in a Monday morning tweet, the British Embassy dialed down the snark and apologized:
And so the social media dustup — much like the War of 1812 itself — ended with more or less no change to the status quo.
This isn't the first time the British government has issued a War of 1812-related apology. In his 2003 speech to Congress, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized for the British attempt two centuries before to burn down the Library of Congress. "I know this is kind of late, but sorry," he said.