I’m sure you’ve heard about this if you paid some attention in history class, but back in 1815 the Duke of Wellington led the British forces to a hard-fought victory over Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor at the time. This battle was called the Battle of Waterloo, and the entire ordeal is completely unrelated to the ABBA song. The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the Napoleonic wars (try saying that five times).
While the battle in itself might not be that relevant anymore, something slightly hilarious happened in 2015. In the ceremony to mark the 200th anniversary of this battle, the descendants of Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington were both invited to Belgium to represent their respective families. So after 200 years, the city of Waterloo saw another clashing of (the genetic legacy of) these two great military leaders. But that’s not where it ends!
These two descendants, Arthur Mornington (descendant of the Duke of Wellington) and Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte (guess who he’s the descendant of – it’s subtle, I swear) are actually rivals in their day to day jobs, too! They both work for different private equity firms in the great city of London, meaning that this is probably one of the first members of the Bonaparte family to be peacefully welcomed into the British capital.
The two men know each other in real life and thankfully don’t share the same animosity as their forefathers. They refer to their counterpart as a great guy, which is nice. Both men have an absolute wealth of royalty in their bloodline, which means they still hold (ceremonial) titles at court. Mr Bonaparte is seen as the head of the former Imperial House of France, at least if you’d ask some monarchists, and is a descendant of Louis XV through is mother. His great-grandmother is princess Clémentine of Belgium, which would also make him a descendant of Louis Philippe I – the last King to rule France. That’s quite a resume, isn’t it?
His British counterpart, official title being the Marquess of Douro, is a descendant of Queen Victoria, meaning he’s technically in line for succession of the throne. It’s mathematically impossible that he’d ever get there, especially since Queen Elizabeth II is going to outlive all of us, but it’s still a nice thing to be able to say. Through his mother’s side, he’s a descendant of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. If that doesn’t ring any bells, he’s the guy that spurred World War I along a bit.
Both men feel genuinely European and are happy that European peace has managed to last as long as it does. It’s nice to see how even in circles of royalty (where these kind of wounds cut a bit deeper and last longer), people can eventually get over the past and live together in harmony. If you take nothing else from this story, maybe let this show you that no water is so deep that it can’t be crossed sooner or later.