Every autumn now we see the same rumor circulate on Facebook, asserting that the Royal British Legion will not be selling Remembrance Day poppies everywhere because some minority groups supposedly find the symbolic flowers “offensive”:
Some really shocking news. The Royal British Legion are not selling poppies in certain areas on Nov 11 this year. This is because some minorities say that it will upset them. I say sod off … The poppy is a symbol of reverence for our fallen heroes of all the wars the BRITISH military have fought in. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN BRITAIN! BRITISH CITIZENS STAND UP AND SAY ‘WE WANT THE POPPY SOLD EVERY WHERE IN THE UK’. THIS IS OUR RIGHT TO REVERE OUR FALLEN.. PLEASE RE-POST
The rumor initially appeared from the ether, absent links or even a shaky backstory explaining why the Royal British Legion might be limiting their sale of poppies in unspecified “certain areas” or why any minority groups might find the poppies “offensive.” (The distribution of such flowers is a tradition tied to Remembrance Day, observed on 11 November in the Commonwealth of Nations to honor soldiers who died in the line of duty.)
Nonetheless, the claim spread like wildfire on social media, along with a measure of outrage at the imagined poppy ban enforcers. In a 27 September 2016 Facebook post, the Royal British Legion denied the claim had any truth to it:
The rumor about offensive poppies is very much like many popular falsehoods spread in the UK and in the United States holding that unspecified groups have taken offense to a vast variety of patriotic items or gestures.