Meeting The Modern-Day Duke of Wellington
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250 Years Since The Birth Of The Duke Of Wellington: Is This His Most Famous Moment?

Some things never change

Meeting The Modern-Day Duke of Wellington

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, it was on this day in Belgium, the Duke of Wellington was on a hill looking over the battlefield at Waterloo.

Wellington looked through his field telescope and could see Napoleon on the hill opposite.

Through the lens he spotted Napoleon issuing orders to his men; then all of a sudden, a cannon opposite roared into life and a ball came sailing over the Duke's head.

With this, The Duke immediately ordered his batman (orderly) to his side, he scribbled down a note and handed it to his aide, telling him ‘deliver this note on pain of death to His Majesty the King, in London, immediately’.

The batman replied dutifully, ‘yes, my Lord!’ Then he jumped onto his horse and rode off into the French countryside.

The young soldier rode all day, only stopping occasionally to change horses, arriving some hours later at Calais - He took a boat to Dover, changed horses again and galloped off towards London.

It was 02:00hrs when the soldier reached Buckingham Palace. He banged on the gates shouting:

‘OPEN IN THE NAME OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON. I MUST SEE THE KING IMMEDIATELY ON PAIN OF DEATH!’

The kings men hurriedly opened the gates and led the tired soldier to the King's bed chamber whereupon he banged on the door.

The King came to the door in his night clothes and holding a candle up to the soldier's dirty face, he demanded to know why he had been awakened at such an ungodly hour. ‘Sire’, stammered the soldier, ‘a message from the Duke of Wellington. I have come direct from the field of battle, Your Majesty.'

The king tore open the wax-sealed document. The message read:

‘CONTACT ... WAIT ... OUT!’