Every 21st of May the Chilean Navy commemorates the legendary bravery of Captain Arturo Prat and the crew of the Esmeralda at the Battle of Iquique in 1879 and England pays its annual tribute at the grave of Admiral Thomas Cochrane, the 10th Earl of Dundonald and wreaths are laid by HE the Ambassador of Chile and by the First Sea Lord.
Admiral Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860) had a truly remarkable career as a naval officer and a politician. One of the Royal Navy's most audacious and feared commanders during the Napoleonic Wars, he went on to command the Chilean, Brazilian and Greek navies, helping these countries in their fight for independence.
His life and exploits served as inspiration for the naval fiction of 20th century novelists C.S. Forester, who created the character of Captain Horatio Hornblower around him, and Patrick O’Brian, who drew on Cochrane’s tactics for his naval stories featuring Captain Jack Aubrey (played by Russell Crowe in the film Master and Commander).
Under the current circumstances, the 2020 commemoration has been different but not less important.
This year, Canning House, in collaboration with the Embassy of Chile, presented an event honouring this day. The esteemed speakers discussed the history of the Chilean Navy and the significance of the 21st of May and reflected upon the centuries-long relationship shared by the British and Chilean naval forces.
The speakers were:
- Lord Mountevans, Honorary President of Canning House
- HE Ambassador David Gallagher, Ambassador of Chile to the UK
- Captain Daniel Muñoz, Defence Attaché, Embassy of Chile