The Bicentenary of Waterloo is a very special commemoration and it is very touching to see that people still care about it 200 years later. It is better still to see the wealth of academic material pouring forth from the pens of skilled and talented historians and writers, which will make up the bulk of the scholarship on the battle for years to come. Make no mistake this anniversary is vital for ensuring Waterloo remains in people’s minds. For Europe, and indirectly, those influenced by the European experience, it was the defining moment of the 19th century, and because so much effort has been spent on the bicentennial this year, it’s heroes will live on, I hope, another 100 years.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Battle of Waterloo would have turned out very differently had Wellington not been there. Luckily for those who wish to express their admiration for the Duke and the events of 200 years ago, the bicentennial of Waterloo has caused a resurgence of quality souvenirs, honouring him and his men, which can be displayed in pride of place as a testament to this defining moment in European history.
As soon as news of the Battle of Waterloo was broadcast, the souvenirs began to appear to commemorate the victory, and it was helped that the industry that had sprang up around the cult of the British hero was already well established by the time the news of the victory arrived. Now a tide of Waterloo themed special edition items are on offer once more.
One of the best I’ve seen is a very unique celebration of the anniversary. Rampley and Co is a pocket square company from London and have created a beautiful men’s accessory, for those of us who still wear jackets or waistcoats. It’s emblazoned with Sir Thomas Lawrence’s superb portrait of the Duke of Wellington, which now hangs in Apsley House, showing the Duke in 1814, just before his most famous battle. This is a particularly fitting piece of memorabilia and a very striking accessory, given that the Napoleonic Wars were such a well dressed affair.
You can check out Rampley’s products, and see their excellent Waterloo blog by following this link.