The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will travel to Belgium on 17th June to attend the Opening Ceremony of the restored Hougoumont Farm, a location which played a significant role in the Battle of Waterloo, whose 200th anniversary is being commemorated this year.
Prince Charles and Camilla will be joined by Princess Astrid of Belgium – daughter of King Albert II.
The royal party will also be joined by descendants of those who fought at the battle, including the present Duke of Wellington, Prince Nikolaus von Blücher of Prussia and Prince Charles Bonaparte. Prince Charles and the Duke of Wellington will jointly unveil a monument to those British soldiers who fought at the battle during the visit.
The restoration comes as part of Project Hougoumont – a charity which aims to try and raise funds to restore Hougoumont Farm and its buildings. The farm is being opened once more just a day before the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo 200 years ago.
It was at Hougoumont in 1815 that 5,500 British, French and German troops were killed or wounded during one of the decisive parts of the campaign. The farm served as the Duke of Wellington’s key defensive point at Waterloo. During the battle, Hougoumont was almost taken when around 30 French troops attempted to get inside, however they were eventually repelled by soldiers from the Coldstream Guards.
The 1st Duke of Wellington later said that the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo depended on the closing of the gate at Hougoumont.
This will be the Prince of Wales’s 10th official visit to Belgium, having last visited in 2011. The Prince and Duchess last went jointly in 2008 when they travelled to Brussels.
The one-day visit will centre around the farm reopening, however the Prince and Duchess will also take part in some other engagements on the day for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
Members of the Coldstream Guards – a regiment which was central in the battle – will also be present, as the Band of the regiment provides musical accompaniment for the occasion. It was at the Battle of Waterloo that The Queen’s foot guards acquired their distinctive bearskin caps, taking them as a trophy from the defeated French imperial guard and now having worn them ever since.
photo credit: Jean-François Schmitz