Dear "cousin Margaret" (she who shares a place in my Pantheon with Saint Thomas of Holmberg - and others!)
A great post that makes one think more deeply about what we do on this great Forum. On the question of 'the Brits', it is hard to be widely and deeply read in history and not be astonished at the military/political/economic/cultural achievements of such a very small country (especially when it was just England, before it became a united kingdom). You can then see that to be a citizen of that political entity (an accident of birth, of course) is going to engender powerful feelings of admiration and/or love. That is when the problem begins!! Being an educated and 'socially progressive' individual, I then have all that guilt for the things we cannot/should not be proud of - the sacking of Badajoz in 1812 really tears me up; the slave trade that added so much to our national wealth - though not to my social class, merely to my 'oppressors'! Where I would have been as a contemporary of Napoleon I can hardly tell - as a Redcoat having to put 'the bloody Frogs' in their place - again?!!, or an admirer of the French (and American) Revolution keen to see its ideals spread over the vile autocracies of Europe? It is the betrayal of those ideals that turns my admiration for Napoleon as a soldier and law-maker into a deep sense of satisfaction at his destruction from 1812 onwards. Why didn't he settle down with his dear wife after 1809 and turn Paris into the centre of the world as he intended?
On the question of the moral high ground, I have to insist that in Spain and Portugal in particular, we did hold it. The French were treacherous and savage invaders and Britain can be justly proud that, with its German, Spanish and Portuguese allies, they made them go home with their tail between their legs.
Finally, I absolutely agree that every nation on earth can/should find much to be proud of in its history, and much to be questioned and regretted. We all need to be aware of living in glass houses when we start to throw stones!!