Today The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were in Belgium, unveiling a memorial to commemorate the lives lost 200 years ago, fighting Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
At Hougoumont Farm – the château and farmhouse held by the British, also a scene of some of the fiercest fighting of that day, Charles unveiled a memorial commemorating the soldiers who died, of which there were up to 50,000; tens of thousands more were wounded.
The memorial depicts two life-size soldiers struggling to close the farm’s north gate to save it from being overrun by the French. This sculpture, created by Vivienne Mallock, is the first to pay tribute to all British troops.
Soldiers from the Coldstream Guards managed to shut the gate and Wellington later said the outcome of Waterloo ‘turned on the closing of the gates at Hougoumont’.
Prince Charles and Camilla were joined by Charles Wellesley, the 9th Duke of Wellington, a descendent of Arthur Wesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The Duke was commander of the allied armies, and with the help of Prussian forces, he defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815.
Barry Van Danzig, a trustee of the Hougoumont restoration project said: ‘The monument to the whole British Army is important. We all hear about Wellington’s victory, but it was the guys on the ground that did it.’
The 9th Duke of Wellington, Prince Nikolaus von Blucher of Prussia and Prince Charles Bonaparte also took part in a symbolic three-way handshake of friendship at the event; they are each relatives of a commander at Waterloo.
Prince Charles and Camilla took a tour of the battlefield with The Duke of Wellington, and Princess Astrid of Belgium, starting at La Belle Alliance Farm, which served as Napoleon’s headquarters.
Camilla’s great-great-great-grandfather, John Whitehill Parson, fought at Waterloo, serving with the 10th Regiment of Light Dragoons.
They also took a tour of Hougoumont, which has undergone a £3m restoration project.
Battle re-enactments will take place this weekend, continuing the commemorative events for Waterloo’s bicentenary, and there will be a national service at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary of the battle.
Photo credit: i-Images