To Top

The Waterloo Ceremony: Duke of Wellington pays his rent

The Waterloo Ceremony. An elaborate gesture performed annually by the Duke of Wellington, as he pays the rent on his grand stately home in Hampshire to the British Monarch. This symbolic ceremony is held every year on 18th June, the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

Statfield Saye, the Duke of Wellington's residence.

Stratfield Saye House, the Duke of Wellington’s residence.

The origin of the Waterloo Ceremony dates back to the early 19th century. In 1815, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, led the British army into battle against a formidable enemy – the French. The armies met at Waterloo, where Napoleon was defeated, bringing an end to nearly 23 years of war in Europe. The Duke of Wellington returned to England, victorious.

Returning to an extremely grateful nation in 1817, the nation bought Stratfield Saye House in Hampshire in order to give it to The Duke of Wellington. The Duke’s original plans were to tear down the house and build a magnificent Waterloo Palace in its place, but when this turned out to be too expensive, he took up residence in Stratfield Saye House itself. The house has served as the home of all the subsequent Dukes of Wellington, and all but the 1st and 6th Dukes are buried on the estate.

The current Duke is Arthur Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington. Every year, His Grace travels to Windsor Castle to pay the rent on Stratfield Saye House. However, this rent is purely symbolic, and no money actually changes hands. Instead, the Duke of Wellington presents The Queen with a French tricolour, to signify the victory over the French at Waterloo. The flag is made of silk, with gold embroidery, and a new one is made each year. The year in which it was used in the ceremony is printed on the corner of the flag in gold lettering.

When The Duke of Wellington comes in Her Majesty’s presence, he kneels before her and offers her the tricolour. She accepts his rent, upon which the flag is handed over to the Castle Superintendent , who takes it to the Guard Chamber.

A marble bust of the 1st Duke of Wellington stands on a pedestal in this chamber, and the French tricolour is hung over it.

The Duke of Wellington retires to his home for another year, his rent paid.

photo credit: rich.tee via photopin cc

  • Robbie MacNiven

    It wasn’t an “English” Army – for a start over 1/3 of it was Scottish, Irish and Welsh. Plus the British only accounted for 1/3 of the soldiers commanded by Wellington – the rest were Dutch, Belgian and German.

    • Bruce Christensen

      Whatever kind of mob it was, it was OUR MOB! 🙂

      • Robbie MacNiven

        True! And I see it’s been changed now, good job 🙂

More in Insight

  • A Quick Look At Royal Dogs

    The British love of dogs is, of course, well established – the royal affection for them as faithful companions being no...

    Elizabeth Jane Timms9th November 2017
  • A Little-Known Royal Plaque in Portsmouth

    A plaque can be found in the garrison walls at Portsmouth, at the location of the old ‘Sally Port’. Its strongly...

    Elizabeth Jane Timms1st November 2017
  • A Christmas Carol at Windsor Castle

    Nine performances of Charles Dickens’ beloved classic novella in prose, A Christmas Carol will take place at the State Apartments at Windsor Castle...

    Elizabeth Jane Timms31st October 2017
Royal Central is the web's most popular source for the latest news and information on the British Royal Family and the Monarchies of Europe.

Subscribe via Email

To receive the latest Royal Central posts straight to your email inbox, enter your email address below and press subscribe.

Join 30,596 other subscribers.

Copyright © 2017 Royal Central, all rights reserved.