On 24 August 1814, British troops occupied Washington for 26 hours - setting fire to several buildings, including the White House.
On 24 August 1814, British troops occupied Washington for 26 hours - setting fire to several buildings, including the White House.Getty

British humour inflamed Americans for appearing to make a feeble joke about the 200th anniversary of British troops burning the White House on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812.

The tweet shows a picture of a cake featuring the White House, some sparklers and the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack. The caption reads: "Only sparklers this time!"

The funny tweet didn't appeal to some Americans, who shot back with some angry responses. "Even if Talking Heads were singing it, I think this is in extremely POOR TASTE," tweeted one user.

Another said: "Classy Britain. Maybe Germany should commemorate bombing London?"

Others hit back: "While the @UKinUSA 1812 tweet was no big deal, I'm allowing myself another 'you'd all be speaking German' joke sometime in the near future."

The UK embassy was hoping to celebrate the "special relationship and work together shoulder to shoulder across the globe". But the outcry forced a grovelling backtrack from the British. "Apologies for earlier tweet. We meant to mark an event in history and celebrate our strong friendship today," it said.

However, not everyone was up in arms at the political faux pas.