Teachers and Descendants from across the UK attended an event at Number 11 Downing Street, invited by the Chancellor on Thursday 19th March to mark the launch of the 200th Anniversary Commemorations of the Battle of Waterloo.
During the event, a variety of guest speakers highlighted the significance of the Waterloo campaign as a defining moment in European history. The battle involved over 200,000 soldiers, of whom 47,000 died with 24,000 others wounded. It ended a long period of war and instability, heralding peace and change across Europe, which still affects us today. Following an introduction from Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture Media and Sport, speakers included the Co-Chairman Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter and The Earl of Mornington – a direct descendant of The Duke of Wellington and the charity’s Patron. Representatives from Foreign Embassies, supporters and volunteers of the charity also attended.
Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP said: “I am thrilled to announce the government’s contribution of £1.1m to support Waterloo 200 in the delivery of their events and educational resources, which will help explain the importance of the Battle to a new generation.”
Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Chairman of Waterloo 200 said: “On this day 200 years ago Napoleon was poised to enter Paris and begin his 100 days as the re-installed Emperor of France. Today Waterloo 200 commences its programme of events to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo with a reception at No 11 Downing Street hosted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has not only given £1m to the restoration of the ruined farm at Hougoumont but the Government has just given £1.1m to Waterloo 200 for the commemorations and for a legacy beyond that. We are delighted with this news as it will allow us to expand our programmes with schools and descendants.”
Chris Heyland, a descendant of Major Arthur Rowley Heyland who fought and died at the end of The Peninsular War, said: “I am delighted to represent my family at the event and extremely glad to meet other descendants.”
Shantha Appavoo, Head of History at Archbishop Tensison’s School, London, said: “For students in our all boys’ school celebrating 330 years since the school’s foundation, Waterloo has particular resonance. We are intrigued to know if some of our past students took part and what was their fate. Waterloo is a valuable story of the past. It is the story of miscommunications, of successful and failed strategy, a fight against dictatorship and expansionism and of political alliances. It is certainly a battle in Britain’s past worth revisiting.”
Preparations are underway for commemorative events across Europe in 2015 and special events – more details to be announced soon.