Don't mention the Waterloo! Guests celebrating 200th anniversary of Wellington's famous victory are told not to gloat

  • Guests attending Battle of Waterloo anniversary service told not to gloat
  • Invitations to the event said it must not be seen as 'triumphalist'
  • The move was criticised by politicians as 'absurd' political correctness

Defeated: Napoleon (illustrated) lost at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

Defeated: Napoleon (illustrated) lost at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

Guests attending a service in London to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo have been told not to act in a 'triumphalist' way – to avoid upsetting the French.

Invitations to the service at St Paul's Cathedral advise that it will avoid glorifying the Duke of Wellington's historic victory over Napoleon in 1815.

But last night the move was criticised by politicians, who said it 'took political correctness to an absurd new degree'.

The invitation to the Waterloo 200 event says: 'The service, although related to a military victory, is not in any way glorifying war, nor must it be seen as triumphalist.'

Instead, the service – to be attended by members of the Royal Family and senior political and military figures – will focus on the 'pan-European' implications of the battle and the century of peace that followed. Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is bidding to be re-elected as a Somerset MP, said: 'Waterloo was a triumph of good versus evil. Napoleon was responsible for between three million and 6.5 million deaths.

'Two hundred years on, it is ridiculous to spare the blushes of the French by not celebrating the battle for what it was. What next? Will we ask France to apologise for the Battle of Hastings?'

The service of commemoration, to take place on the 200th anniversary of Waterloo on June 18, will be the centrepiece of a series of events to mark the battle.

Waterloo 200 chairman, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, defended the 'no triumphalism' theme.

Asked if it looked as though the service was designed to avoid embarrassing the French, he said: 'Some people may read it like that but it's not how we look at it.'

He added that the enemy at Waterloo was Napoleon – not France as such. The commemoration was highlighting the effect of the battle on Europe, not the military campaign or the battle itself.

'What Waterloo brought in was an extended period of peace in Europe after a particularly horrible 20 years of war,' Sir Evelyn said.

'The commemoration looks forward to the European harmony that followed it.'

Colin Brown, author of Scum Of The Earth, a new book about Waterloo, said Wellington would not have objected to the non-triumphalist tone.

He added: 'The Duke strongly believed in the restoration of the status quo after the battle, including the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France.'

The commemoration was highlighting the effect of the battle (illustrated) on Europe, organisers said

The commemoration was highlighting the effect of the battle (illustrated) on Europe, organisers said

 

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