June 20 1815: News of Waterloo Reaches London


At 11 o’clock on the night of 21 June [1815] a dirty travelling-coach rolled into St James’s Square and came to a halt outside No. 18. Passers-by stopped and stared with curiosity at two military colours, their staffs topped with gilded Napoleonic eagles, which protruded from one of the coach windows. Its occupant, Major Henry Percy, one of Wellington’s aides-de-camp, alighted and bounded up the steps of Castlereagh’s house. On being informed that the Foreign Secretary was dining with Mr Edmund Boehm at No. 16, along with the Prince Regent and Lord Liverpool, Percy seized the two French colours and went to find him there. A moment later he burst into the dining room, threw the colours at the feet of the Prince Regent and announced that Wellington had won a great victory over Napoleon, who had fled the field followed by the remnants of his shattered army. Before he had…

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