Britain flaunts Battle of Waterloo victory in Brussels

The triumph of Britain in Waterloo was audacious and cunning that gave a serious blow to French ambitions for a European superstate.

After two centuries, British diplomats parade the triumph of the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in Brussels. This along with the ploy of David Cameron to wrest back powers from the European Union.

Already, the offices of the UK Representation to the European Union are doing an exhibit of a series of works that feature the life of the Iron Duke in the line with the 200th anniversary of the conflict in June of 2015.

The works have been exhibited at the first floor landing of the building. The display prominently showcases the pieces for visitors from the EU’s 26 other states.

The exhibit highlights a marble bust of Wellington created by George Gammon Adams. The work is based on his death mask, a painting by Henry Perronet Briggs and the a three-quarter length portrait of the Duke wearing a black frock-coat.

Another amazing piece is a mezzotint portrait of the Duke with two officers while around him are his plumed helmet, sabre, telescope and maps. The Duke is writing the official record of the battle.

Another feature of the exhibit depicts the Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House next to Hyde Park. The banquet is an annual feast which the Duke hosts in his London home. The event is intended for officers who served under him in the Peninsular War.

David Cameron plans to overturn the years of “ever closer” EU and claw back a series of powers on justice, environment and employment legislation, before the scheduled referendum on membership by 2017.

José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, says that he thinks Cameron’s plan is “doomed to failure”.

The works were mounted by the Government Art Collection. The exhibit was part of the refurbishment of the embassy on the Rue Ducale in Brussels. The refurbishment project costs around £3.3 million. Funding for the renovation was raised from sales of surplus buildings, according to the Foreign Office. 

Former diplomats highly appreciate the artworks.

“Well done the embassy for pulling it off,” said Charles Crawford, the former ambassador to Serbia and Poland. “The people who you have most fun teasing are those you hate the most: your next-door neighbours. If you get a chance to rub the French noses in it, you do.”

The Telegraph reports that this is not the first time when paintings of the Battle of Waterloo had been used to for diplomatic affairs.

Margaret Thatcher was said to have been visited in Downing Street by Alexander Haig who was then the US secretary of state after the invasion of Falklands. The secretary of state wished to clinch a peace deal with Argentina before the British task force went ashore.

She pointed out that negotiations were improbable by showing him the newly-hung oil paintings of Nelson and Wellington.

Though not fully substantiated, it was said that the former French presidents Charles de Gaulle, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac requested for two large murals of Daniel Maclise on Waterloo and Trafalgar in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster to be shrouded when they visited. 

As part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the ministers have allocated £1 million for the restoration of the Belgium battlefield and the building of a memorial for British soldiers who fought there. The Foreign Office has relayed that the French will not take insult.


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE