World

Royalty, officials mark bicentennial of Waterloo battle united in handshake of former enemies

  • The Duke of Wellington, left, holds hands with Prince Charles Bonaparte, center, and Prince Bluecher von Wahlstatt during the ceremonial opening of the Hougoumont Farm in Braine-l'Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Hougoumont Farm played a critical role in the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo, and the newly restored farm will open to the general public on June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

    The Duke of Wellington, left, holds hands with Prince Charles Bonaparte, center, and Prince Bluecher von Wahlstatt during the ceremonial opening of the Hougoumont Farm in Braine-l'Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Hougoumont Farm played a critical role in the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo, and the newly restored farm will open to the general public on June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Charles, Prince of Wales, right, unveils a monument to the Battle of Waterloo during the ceremonial opening of the Hougoumont Farm in Braine-l'Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Hougoumont Farm played a critical role in the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo, and the newly restored farm will open to the general public on June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

    Charles, Prince of Wales, right, unveils a monument to the Battle of Waterloo during the ceremonial opening of the Hougoumont Farm in Braine-l'Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Hougoumont Farm played a critical role in the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo, and the newly restored farm will open to the general public on June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Charles, Prince of Wales, front right, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall view re-enactors as they attend the ceremonial opening of Hougoumont Farm in Braine-l'Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The fully restored farm opens to the general public on June 18, 2015, which is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. (AP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand/Pool Photo via AP)

    Charles, Prince of Wales, front right, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall view re-enactors as they attend the ceremonial opening of Hougoumont Farm in Braine-l'Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The fully restored farm opens to the general public on June 18, 2015, which is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. (AP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Belgian King Philippe is leading royalty and dignitaries in the commemoration of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, a watershed in European history that marked the end of Napoleon and French domination and the beginning of the British century.

Under overcast skies, hundreds of invited guests and thousands of re-enactors gathered under the Lion's Mount monument exactly 200 years after the half-day battle killed more than 10,000 soldiers in a closely fought encounter between French troops and an international coalition led by Britain's Duke of Wellington.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that "the enemies of yesterday have become staunch allies" after descendants of the top military leaders of the battle shook hands on Wednesday on the very grounds where their ancestors had pointed guns and cannons at one another.