History Revealed


If it wasn’t for the chaos caused by an uninvited and most unwelcome guest, the Duchess of Richmond’s ball on 15 June 1815 would have been just another high society party in history. But since it was held in Brussels on the very day that Napoleon’s troops stormed into what is present-day Belgium, it became the stuff of legend, forever remembered as the glamorous prologue to the horrors of the battlefield at Waterloo.

There’s no doubt that the highly romanticised fictional accounts of writers like Lord Byron and William Thackeray played their part in that. But just how much did they embellish the events of that fateful evening?

“As spring turned to summer, there seemed to be no immediate threat”

Well for a start, the Duchess – Charlotte Lennox – never intended her ball as a farewell for departing soldiers; it was just one of many parties and picnics entertaining

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