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UK marks 200 years since Trafalgar

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PORTSMOUTH, England (CNN) -- More than 150 ships from three dozen nations are anchored off the coast of Britain for a mock sea battle marking 200 years since Adm. Horatio Nelson routed Napoleon Bonaparte's French and Spanish forces at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Seventeen ships from five countries will take part in Tuesday's mock battle, which will be watched by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and thousands of spectators.

The battle will involve 10 tons of gunpowder, state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and a replica of Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, where he died when a musket ball hit his spine during the famous battle that gave Britain supremacy of the seas for more than a century.

Although the battle off Cape Trafalgar was a victory for Britain over France, ceremony organizers have taken pains to avoid rekindling the cross-channel rivalry.

Despite a long-standing alliance between the two countries, their rivalry remains fierce on political matters such as the Iraq war and European Union budget.

Rather than hold a precise re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar, organizers instead are pitting an unidentified red navy against an unnamed blue one.

That decision attracted criticism from the 75-year-old great, great, great granddaughter of Nelson and his famous lover, Emma Hamilton.

Anna Tribe called the idea "pretty stupid."

"I am sure the French and Spanish are adult enough to appreciate we did win that battle," she said. "I am anti-political correctness. Very much against it. It makes fools of us."

French and Spanish ships will be taking part in the ceremony, and French Vice Adm. Jacques Mazars said: "We are proud to be here and to be part of this great all-week sea festival in Portsmouth. That's why the French navy sent five ships.

"It's not done to put the UK from one side and France and Spain from the other, but it is done to have a common memory of what has occurred 200 years ago. It is a festival of the sea.

"Today I would say the UK navy and the French navy has two fingers on the same hand," he said. "We are always working together."

A spokesman for the organizers said up to 150,000 spectators and hundreds of VIP guests were expected to attend, depending on the weather.

A massive security operation involving more than 400 navy personnel and scores of police officers has been launched to protect the public, the royal family and the navy during the event.

CNN's Walter Rodgers contributed to this report

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