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Prince Charles and Camilla

Charles and Camilla visit Belgium battlefield to mark #Waterloo200

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were in Belgium on Wednesday to attend the Opening Ceremony of the restored Hougoumont Farm.

Her Royal Highness, Princess Astrid of Belgium, joined Charles and Camilla on their tour of Hougoumont Farm. The present Duke of Wellington, Prince Nikolaus von Blücher of Prussia and Prince Charles Bonaparte were also in attendance at Wednesday’s event.

Prince Charles Bonaparte, The Duke of Wellington and Prince Nikolaus von Blücher of Prussia.

Prince Charles Bonaparte, The Duke of Wellington and Prince Nikolaus von Blücher of Prussia.

The farm has recently undergone a £3m restoration project following decades of neglect. The restoration is part of Project Hougoumont the charity that aimed to raise funds to restore Hougoumont Farm and its buildings. The farm is being opened again a day before the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

During the visit, Prince Charles unveiled a memorial to the British and allied soldiers who fought at the Battle of Waterloo.

The Prince of Wales unveiling the Waterloo memorial.

The Prince of Wales unveiling the Waterloo memorial.

The memorial displays two life-size soldiers grappling to close the north gates of the farm to protect it from being invaded by the French.

The defence of the farm was so strategically crucial that the 1st Duke of Wellington said the result of Waterloo “turned on the closing of the gates at Hougoumont”.

Originally called Gomont or Gormont, Hougoumont, was a Chateau and farm located approximately 5 km south of the village of Waterloo and 18 km south of Brussels.

The Chateau, although owned was unoccupied during the Battle of Waterloo.

Around 1130 am the battle commenced with a booming volley from the Grand Battery. Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell was placed in charge of Hougoumont by The Duke of Wellington, who told Macdonell: “defend the post to the last extremity.”

Macdonell heeded the words from Wellington and held strong as Hougomont was not taken despite almost nine hours of ceaseless combat.

Hougoumont came close though to being taken. An attack by Sous-Lieutenant Legros nicknamed ‘L’enfonceur’ or ‘The Smasher’ came charging with a large axe. He succeeded to break through the North gate. Macdonell and other Guards were able to shut the gate, to trap 30 Frenchmen, including ‘L’enfonceur’ inside.

The visit on Wednesday is the 10th official visit to Belgium by The Prince of Wales having last visited in 2011. Charles and his wife last visited jointly in 2008 when they travelled to Brussels.

On Thursday, a national service will be held St Paul’s Cathedral in London to mark the anniversary of the battle.

Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall will be joined by the Earl of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the current Duke of Wellington as well as members of the armed forces and descendants of those who fought at Waterloo.

Photo Credit: MOD Crown Copyright 2015