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Belgians, Brits celebrate Duchess of Richmond’s Ball in Brussels

'The Most Famous Ball in History' celebrated deep historic links between the UK and Belgium while raising funds for charitable causes.

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Ambassador Brenton and Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders

Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders and Defence Minister Pieter De Crem joined British Ambassador to Belgium Jonathan Brenton to celebrate “The Most Famous Ball in History”, a Charity fund-raising Duchess of Richmond’s Ball Brussels 2013.

The charity Ball, organised by the British Embassy and the Brussels British Community Association in close cooperation with the Palais d’Egmont and the kind support of Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, commemorates an historic event held in June 1815, when the Duchess of Richmond organised a Ball in Brussels for the officers of Wellington’s army and distinguished guests.

During the Ball, a message arrived from Prussian commander Prince Blucher warning of Napoleon’s approach. In the early hours of the morning, officers slipped away to join their troops in Quatre Bras, and the Battle of Waterloo 2 days later.

Last weekend though, there were fortunately no battles fought, apart from at the lively charity auction with bidders raising generous funds to support worthwhile causes. The Ball was also a fantastic opportunity to mark an important date in history with a military band, re-enacters, ballroom dancing, pomp and circumstance, and all of this for charity.

In addition to our regular causes, the 2013 Ball funds will go to l’Hôpital des Enfants. The Children’s University Hospital in Laeken is the only Belgian Hospital entirely dedicated to Children, caring for over 11,000 children every year. 

The 2013 ball will also support the Royal British Legion, the Community Help Service and the British Charitable Fund, and is held in partnership with Project Hougoumont; an Anglo-Belgian project to raise money for the reconstruction of the Hougoumont farm house, scene of the some of the fiercest fighting  during the battle.

British Ambassador to Belgium, Jonathan Brenton:

It is a delight to celebrate this wonderful charity event in the run-up to the 2015 Waterloo anniversary. The UK has always been a long-standing ally of Belgium and its people. We celebrate history because it is a reminder of how much things have changed for the better. The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was the last time the British and French armies fought against each other. We have been military allies ever since. I hope this year’s Ball can raise funds for excellent Belgian and British charities in Belgium. And I thank the Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders for hosting the Ball in the Palais d’Egmont and Defence Minister De Crem for honouring the Ball with his presence.

The national francophone television station RTBF covered the Ball. You can find this report in French here: RTBF news item

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Published 2 July 2013