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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 09:45 GMT
Battle over legacy of Waterloo

The duke makes around 100,000 a year from land


Belgian taxpayers have reportedly launched a legal bid to reclaim rewards still being reaped from the battle of Waterloo - fought in 1815 - by the present Duke of Wellington.

After Wellington's victory in the battle, King William of Holland was so grateful that he awarded the Duke the title of the Prince of Waterloo and granted him the rights to 2,600 acres of land.

The king ruled what is now Belgium after Napoleon's defeat, and Belgium was given independence in 1830.


The Duke of Wellington is a charming person, a real gentleman, but he really behaves in Waterloo and the surrounding areas as if the battle happened in 1970
Jean-Emile Humblet
The eighth duke still enjoys the title and around 100,000-a-year from the longstanding tenants who occupy the land.

But the Times newspaper reports that almost two centuries later, the Prince of Waterloo's subjects are about to revolt.

Under the leadership of former Belgian senator Jean-Emile Humblet, those opposing the continuing privileges say they are an indefensible anachronism.

Mr Humblet told the paper: "The Duke of Wellington is a charming person, a real gentleman, but he really behaves in Waterloo, and the surrounding areas as if the battle happened in 1970."

Belgium 'forced to accept'

Until 1988 successive Dukes of Wellington received around 1,600 a year under a deal struck by the Iron Duke.

The Belgian Government agreed in 1817 to make him the annual payment in return for the proceeds of sales of timber the duke wanted to clear from forested land.

The present Duke agreed to forgo the payment in exchange for outright ownership of 60 of the 2,600 acres he has rights to.

But the taxpayers say the deal does not reflect the value of the land - which they say is part of Belgium's national territory.

They are using the debate to draw attention to the wider issues of the original agreement.

Belgium was effectively coerced into accepting the terms of the original agreement because it could not afford to upset Britain, they said.

The paper said it was unable to contact the duke for comment.

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See also:
06 Nov 98 |  UK
Waterloo insult to French visitors

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