Let us do so in the conciliatory spirit of – from left to right – the present Duke of Wellington, Prince Charles Bonaparte (a descendant of Napoleon’s youngest brother Jérôme) and Prince Blücher von Wahlstatt. No doubt their commemorative handshake preceded an appropriate dinner. I doubt whether they used the occasion to ask this: Suppose Blücher’s ancestor had not arrived in the nick of time and Napoleon had won the battle? What would the world have been like? The Code Napoleon instead of the Common Law? No Nelson statue on Trafalgar Square? No Waterloo Station? No British Empire?
And instead of the marble statue of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker (made in 1802) in Apsley House on Hyde Park Corner, there would be a nude Iron Duke in a London version of Fontainebleau?
More likely, they discussed the women in Napoleon’s life, giving high marks to the Polish Countess Maria Walewska who came all the way to Le Havre to say a tearful goodbye to Napoleon before he sailed off to St. Helena. No doubt they deplored the disloyalty of his wife Marie Louise who did not turn up with their four-year-old son, Napoleon II. They preferred to stay at home in Vienna with Papa, the Emperor. The enchanting Josephine had died of pneumonia and a broken heart a year earlier.
When I learned about the Napoleonic period in school in pre-Nazi Germany, Wellington was hardly mentioned. Blücher beat Napoleon.