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Why the duke in The King’s carriage at Ascot had to hand over a flag first to keep his grand house

The King was all smiles as the procession at the start of this year’s Royal Ascot got under way but he was also collecting a rather important due.

His Majesty was joined in the first carriage by the Duke of Wellington, a friend of both The King and Queen.

However, that bond didn’t get in the way of an old tradition the Duke has to carry out on June 18th every year – or lose his rather grand home at Stratfield Saye.

The first day of Royal Ascot this year fell on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo when the first Duke of Wellington famously defeated Napoleon.

Arthur Wellesley won one of the most famous victories in British history when he beat Napoleon on June 18th 1815 and, on his return, he was a hero. The nation gave him a home at Stratfield Saye in gratitude for his victory. But there was a condition.

Every year, on the anniversary of his famous win, the Duke of Wellington must pay ‘’quitrent’’ to the Monarch. If they don’t, the house can be reclaimed. The ‘’quitrent’’ is a reminder of the victory over Napoleon. On June 18th every year, the Duke must present a French flag to the Monarch.

As King Charles, Queen Camilla and the Duke and Duchess of Wellington looked to be getting on as well as ever in the carriage on their way to the first day of Royal Ascot, the handover of the ‘’quitrent’’ presumably went ahead as planned.

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