Sunday 17 May 2015

The French eagles from Waterloo on display in Edinburgh

I know what you're thinking, and I agree that I'm still a handsome devil. If you can manage to tear your gaze away from me I want you to look to the left. Those two French eagles were captured at Waterloo on the 18th June 1815 and are currently on display at the Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh. One was captured by a Scottish unit and the other by English horsemen. After the battle those two magnificent symbols of British triumph were handed over to a British officer along with Wellington's dispatches and sent to London where they arrived on the 21st.

Normally the two trophies are kept in the respective capitals, but until the end of this month they can be seen side by side for the first time since 1956 when the eagle of the 45th Regiment, which was captured by a sergeant in the Scots Greys, was placed in Edinburgh.

Also on display is Napoleon's rather gaudy sugar bowl, as well as various items from the allied forces who crushed the little man's plans to dominate Europe.

A pistol that was carried by an officer in the King's German Legion, Marshal Blucher's teapot and in front of that the Duke of Wellington's ink pot. To the left is a musket ball that a Scottish officer discovered embedded in his hat after the battle and a regimental badge recovered from the field some days later.

However it is the eagles that most people linger in front of to have their photographs taken. They are potent reminders of when we were all British before England went her own way.

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