UK’s Washington ambassador slaps down French counterpart over British burning down the White House 

The British ambassador to the United States emerged victorious from a social media skirmish after slapping down his French counterpart with a reference to the Battle of Waterloo.

Sir Kim Darroch’s contretemps with Gérard Araud, the French ambassador, began after he hosted a history symposium at the White House.

"From Scottish stonemasons to English architects, the UK played an invaluable role in the design of this iconic building, and the diplomacy within it," Sir Kim wrote on Twitter.

In an unsolicited response Mr Araud wrote: "And in the burning of it in 1815…."

He appeared to be referring to the White House conflagration carried out by the British, which actually happened a year earlier.

Sir Kim, who keeps his mobile phone in a Union flag case, retorted: "Gerard, unusually, your history is a little inaccurate. It was 1814. Something else happened in 1815…"

Another Twitter user commented: "And Britain with the BURN. #waterloo."

Mr Araud wasn’t finished, claiming French credit for the White House design, dismissing a claim on Twitter that is it was based on Leinster House in Ireland.

Accompanying his post with a picture, he wrote: "Actually, the design is based on the French chateau of Rastignac….uncannily similar…"

The spat came a week after Emmanuel Macron, the French president, made a joke about the White House fire at British expense.

At a state dinner in Washington Mr Macron opened a toast to Donald Trump by saying: "This White House, full of history, that the British burned down in 1815…"

His remarks were published by the White House press office and it was unclear whether Mr Macron, or the White House itself, got the date wrong.

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