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Waterloo 200th anniversary: Victory dispatch arrival re-enacted

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Media captionKey moments from the re-enactment of the Waterloo victory dispatch

Commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo concluded with a re-enactment of the moment news of the allied victory reached London.

A horse-drawn chaise post retraced the route taken in 1815 from Old Royal Naval College, in Greenwich, to St James's Square, where news from Belgium was delivered to the Prince Regent.

A procession to mark the occasion has also taken place in central London.

Events have been staged in Belgium and the UK to remember the battle.

In June 1815 - following the victory of the Duke of Wellington's allied forces over Napoleon's French army - Major Harry Percy left Belgium carrying a letter written by the Duke relaying news from the battlefield to an expectant nation.

But the ship carrying the dispatch began to drift in the English Channel, resulting in the men having to row the 20 miles to shore, landing at Broadstairs, in Kent.

Imperial Eagles

From there, the dispatch was taken by carriage to the Prince Regent, who was at a dinner party in London.

Once there, the Prince Regent initially thought Major Percy - who was still covered in blood from the fighting - was bearing bad news.

But once told of Wellington's victory, guests then rushed into the street to celebrate.

Actors dressed as Major Percy and Commander James White - who also helped to carry the original victory message - have retraced the original three-day journey from Waterloo.

They travelled across London in horse-drawn carriage, along with replicas of two captured Imperial Eagles and Standards of the French army.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Replicas of two captured Imperial Eagles and Standards of the French army were taken across London
Image copyright PA
Image caption Actors Michael Bradley (left), dressed as Commander James White, and Julian Farrance, dressed as Major Henry Percy
Image copyright PA
Image caption The news was announced outside the Old Royal Naval College, in Greenwich, before the dispatch left for London

An actor playing Major Percy delivered the message at the East India Club in St James's Square - where the message of victory was originally received by the Prince Regent - in front of Princess Anne.

He told the Princess Royal: "I've come to you directly from the Duke of Wellington's headquarters in the village of Waterloo.

"His grace, along with our Dutch and Belgian allies, and the Prussian forces as well, have met the Corsican Empire in the field and have dealt him the most shattering defeat."

The eagles were then presented to the Princess Royal.

The carriage then joined the Waterloo Parade along The Mall, accompanied by military bands.

Julian Farrance, who played Major Percy during the commemoration, said the whole experience had been "simply astonishing".

"It has been an astonishing privilege for us to be able to do this - to be able to ride the post chaise through the middle of town, but also to have started out at Waterloo and followed this journey through."

The 200th anniversary of the battle has seen a series of events re-enacting important moments.

Image copyright PA
Image caption From Kent, the dispatch was taken by carriage to the Prince Regent, in London
Image copyright PA
Image caption A boy in historical costume parades on The Mall
Image caption In London, the re-enactment of the news being delivered took place in front of Princess Anne
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It comes as Frenchman Frank Samson played Napoleon during the re-enactment of the battle itself

On Saturday a huge re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo took place in the same Belgian fields where Napoleon's army was defeated.

Around 6,000 volunteers dressed as infantry and cavalry officers to recreate the battle and commemorate those who died.

The volunteers dressed as soldiers, with 300 horses and 100 cannon, carefully re-enacted the battle for a crowd of 60,000 spectators.

On Thursday, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister David Cameron were among guests at a commemoration service at St Paul's Cathedral in London.

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