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Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

Date: 
24 April 2015

2015 saw the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo where the Duke of Wellington and his army celebrated victory over the Emperor Napoleon on 18 June 1815. To mark the occasion, commemorative events were organised in both Belgium and the UK.

The official events and festivities in Belgium ran from 18-21 June, including a series of the largest battle re-enactments ever seen in Europe and a spectacular sound and light show over the famous Butte de Lion. Another significant event was the inauguration on 17th June of the newly renovated Hougoumont Farm, often referred to as ‘the farm that won Waterloo’ because of the importance of its capture in the outcome of the battle. The site was successfully defended by the British and their allies; several thousand fighters on both sides died in the struggle. Over recent years, major rebuilding work has been taking place at the farm, sponsored by both Belgian and British public authorities and private sectors to secure the site as a world class museum.

The Embassy of Belgium in London has supported and participated in the commemorations in various ways. In December 2014, a Black Tie dinner took place at the Ambassador’s Residence to thank the supporters of the restoration of the Hougoumont Farm. At this occasion, Ambassador Trouveroy also received the Pistrucci medal on behalf of Belgium for its participation (then as part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands) alongside Britain in the Battle of Waterloo. The medal was presented by General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter of the UK Waterloo 200 Committee. 

Pistrucci

Pistrucci medals

In April, the embassy organised two private events to support the Waterloo 200 Committee in preparing their 750 seat gala dinner in June and to support the work of the Guards of the Household Division around the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo.

Guards

On 10 June, the Household Division invited the Embassy to the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony which is dedicated to the commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo. The yearly ceremony consists of a spectacular evening military concert with a marching display and fireworks on Horse Guards Parade in central London.

Later in June, the Embassy participated in two official Waterloo 200 commemoration ceremonies. On 17 June, the Ambassador attended a VIP gala banquet at Guildhall for everyone involved in the commemorations. The raised funds went to ABF - The Soldiers’ Charity and to Wellington College's Prince Albert scholarship Scheme. The following day, there was a Te Deum at St Paul's Cathedral at which the British Royal Family was represented as well as members of the Wellington family and of other veteran families.

VIP gala banquet

On 26 October, Charles Wellesley - 9th Duke of Wellington, and Count Lukas von Blücher were reunited at the Ambassador's Residence for an event to thank the stakeholders involved in the Banquet organised by Waterloo 200 for the Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. The National Army Museum exhibited items of soldiers involved in the battle and presented their activities around Waterloo. A video especially adapted for the occasion, showed the events that led to the battle and the reenactments of the battle earlier in June.

The Belgian Tourist Office has also been very much involved in promoting Waterloo and its region as a fascinating place to visit, be it for the commemoration festivities at the end of June or to follow the ‘Napoleon’s route to Wellington’ for example.

For details on events in both countries, please visit: