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Lords honour Battle of Waterloo

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A re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

A re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

A re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

The British might have lost the Battle of Waterloo had today's journalistic practices been operating at the time, a Tory peer has suggested.

Lord Spicer said that the Duke of Wellington might never had been in a position to command the allied army, which helped defeat Napoleon 200 years ago, because of his involvement in a possible case.

The former MP said: "On the morning of the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke wrote: 'I have no time to write a short letter so I will write a long one'.

"He was probably referring to a divorce in which he was one of the cited parties, unfortunately.

"Is it not the case that had the journalistic practices that prevailed today had applied at that time he might never have been supreme commander and we might have lost?"

Lord Garinder of Kimble, who was answering questions for the Government on plans to mark the 200th anniversary, said: "I think we can all be extremely grateful for the Duke of Wellington's courage and bravery."

Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth of Drumlean said: "In commemorating a famous victory over Napolean by the Iron Duke and his European allies, do you agree that we must never forget the sacrifices made by the peoples of this island over the last 200 years in defence of peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom in Europe.

"In this week of all weeks, we must stand together as a United Kingdom with our allies in defending this precious legacy."

Liberal Democrat Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury said the commemoration of the June 18 battle should "emphasise not the triumph but the tragedy of conflict - tragedy we experienced so strongly last week".

Lord Gardiner said: "I think it is rightly why we have all used the words commemoration and never celebration.

"I think it encapsulates what we all feel about the sacrifice of these dreadful battles, but we are grateful we prevailed."

Lord Gardiner told peers: "The Government is working with Waterloo 200, the charitable trust, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle.

"Many activities are planned across the United Kingdom and in Belgium."

He said the Government was providing £1 million to ensure the farmhouse at Hougoumont, at the site of the battle in Belgium, was restored by June 18.

Tory the Earl of Cathcart said he had in his family archive original maps of the battlefield used by members of his family who fought there.

"One was aide de camp to Wellington and another had three horses shot from under him during the battle. Happily both survived going on to become generals like their father, grandfather and great-grandfather," he said.

"Naturally I welcome the Government's donation to help the restoration of Hougoumont, but can I ask about the overall cost and funding?

"Have any other countries made donations - presumably not the French?"

Lord Gardiner said there were contributions from a Belgium regional government and Belgium and UK sponsors.

Admiral Lord West of Spithead, a Labour peer and former chief sea lord, said part of the celebrations would involve the recreation of the dispatch from Brussels to London.

"HMS Peruvian was becalmed off Ostend and the captain and four sailors than rowed 18 miles to Broadstairs," he said.

"Do you not think if we are to recreate it we are going to have to start training some captains in the Royal Navy now to achieve that?"

PA Media