As I mentioned in a previous post, I purchased a rather large hand colored engraving of the Duke of Wellington at Storey’s in London and had it shipped home. A bit later, Victoria found a smaller version of the exact same print at Gray’s Antiques Market, which enabled us from then on to complete the rest of our Wellington tour with Wellington.
I must say, Victoria and I found the Duke to be everything we’d ever imagined – and more.
After first meeting up with him, the Duke took Victoria, Brooke and myself for a drink at The Golden Lion pub, St. James’s. Who knew he was such a two fisted drinker!? And the stories he told us . . . he is funny. There was one anecdote the Duke told us about Prinny that involved a dwarf and a footman. That Prinny – what a card! I’d relate the story to you here, but Victoria feels it’s a bit too racy for public consumption.
Afterwards, the Duke took us to dinner on St. James’s Street, at an upscale venue called Just St. James
. Of course, we were given a window table with views over the Street when the hostess realized that we were with the Duke of Wellington. However, on the way down the Street towards the restaurant we had passed a venerable building with a uniformed doorman out front. Victoria stopped before him and asked, “What is this building?” Well, honest to Betsy, the man refused to answer. He just looked at us with the tiniest of smiles and kept mum.
Then, Victoria asked, “It’s Boodle’s Club, isn’t it?”
Reluctantly, the man answered, “Yes, madam, it is.”
“Ha! I knew it,” said Victoria, taking the smallest step closer to the man. “Can we come in?”
“Well,” Victoria allowed, “it was worth a shot.”
Of course, we could have pulled out the Duke of Wellington and gained admittance, but we decided to keep him in our back pocket, so to speak.
His Grace insisted upon we ladies ordering dessert and, though we demured, we did eventually order a gorgeous cheese plate and fresh English strawberries and cream. And an Irish coffee. And a glass of port.
The Duke also escorted us to many of the lovely garden squares we visited, and to the Lansdowne Club for cocktails.
We made a visit to Horse Guards, where the Duke was pleased to find that everything was still ship shape and Bristol fashion. And from there we went to the Grenadier Pub, where we three hoisted a few pints.
We asked the Duke about the mounting block outside the pub, purported to have been his. “Rubbish!” he exclaimed. “I’ve never needed the aid of a mounting block to mount my horse and still less a paltry sort of mounting block like that one!”
His Grace grew a tad sentimental at seeing Windsor again, what with it’s connections to Queen Victoria. When we asked the Duke if he also remembered George IV with fondness, he replied, “Not so much.”
Though he was the most charming of companions, I must say the Duke was chomping at the bit to get back to his old stomping grounds in Brussels.
The Duke (with description and price tag intact) arrives in Brussels.
The Duke visits the British Monument to those who fell at Waterloo at a cemetary in Brussels. The poor man . . . . it was a very touching moment.
The Duke was disappointed that the building that had been the site of his Brussels Headquarters was being refaced. Progress, he sighed philosophically, marches on.
The Duke with two of his fans. On the right is Jeremy Black author of many history books including this one below:
We first visited the French encampment . . .
where the Duke was not amused.
Finally . . . . we and the Duke reached Waterloo and the first thing we did was . . .
to eat lunch. Oh, and have a drink. Thus fortified, we headed for the Battlefield,
where the Duke spent some time checking out the artillery.
Here we are near the site of the Duke’s greatest victory.
Even in the nastiest weather, the Duke prevailed.
And was pleased to see that his troops were still capable of pitching a demmed fine tent.
And so our time with the Duke came to an end. Victoria and I will always look back with fondness on our tour with the Duke of Wellington, the sites we visited and the many good times we shared. Having completed many campaigns in his time, the Duke was a real trooper where travel was concerned and planned our outings with military precision. Not to mention the fact that, as a gentleman, he always insisted on picking up the tab. You’ve got to love it.