British Army cavalrymen have paraded through London carrying a battle standard seized at Waterloo to mark the anniversary of the day the artefact first arrived in the capital to confirm victory over Napoleon.
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, wearing full ceremonial dress, rode on 55 horses and two carriages from the National Army Museum in Chelsea, west London, to Horse Guards Parade, off Whitehall in central London, to deliver the Waterloo Eagle staff.
They were welcomed by the Queen’s Life Guard, while the Household Cavalry band performed for the ceremonial handover, which also included speeches.
The Waterloo 105 Eagle was carried by a Lance Corporal of Horse representing the original trooper, Serjeant Francis Styles, who captured the standard during a charge against French infantry by the Duke of Wellington’s heavy cavalry on June 18 in 1815.
Serjeant Styles’ original Waterloo medal and the 105 Eagle will be displayed at the Household Cavalry Museum as part of a new exhibition opening on Monday.
The museum’s chairman, retired Colonel James Gaselee, said the discovery by serving Household Cavalryman Corporal of Horse Richard Hendy that the medal, which had been lost to the regiment after Serjeant Styles’ death in 1828, was on sale on eBay in the United States “couldn’t have come at a better time”.
After donations from serving and former members of the Household Cavalry secured the medal, Col Gaselee said: “The museum has been hit hard by the successive lockdowns and having the medal join our collection, with the loan of the 105th Eagle, will I am sure, draw visitors back to Horse Guards.
“The story of Styles is an epic one and I’m looking forward to others hearing more about him and the incredible characters who charged with him that day.”
The two eagles and the Duke of Wellington’s dispatches telling of the Allied victory arrived in London on June 21 1815 – 206 years ago.
This summer, a temporary collection at the Household Cavalry Museum will host these artefacts alongside displays on the cavalry heroes of Waterloo, activity trails, Waterloo walking tours and special events.
Blues and Royals Squadron Leader Major Tom Mountain, 31, said: “Every single soldier in the squadron, and across the regiment, is fiercely proud of the legacy made at Waterloo by Styles and those he rode with.
“Today we wear the eagle on our sleeves, and, for many, we have it tattooed on our skin – it means that much to us. It embodies what it means to be a Household Cavalryman and epitomises the courage, teamwork and sheer grit we expect from our people.”
Justin Maciejewski, director of the National Army Museum, said: “It is a great honour for the National Army Museum to loan the Eagle of Napoleon’s 105th Infantry Regiment, a precious object from our national collection, so it can be reunited with the medals of Serjeant Styles at the Household Cavalry Museum this summer.”
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