Andrea here, looking ahead to February with a sigh. Where I live, it’s usually the dreariest month—gray, cold and often snowy—and seem to go on forever, even though it’s the shortest one of the year. So perhaps I can be forgiven for daydreaming about parties to chase away the Winter Blues. Dancing, laughter, glittering candlelight, champagne . . . Well, of course, as I’m a history nerd, that immediately brought to mind thoughts of the most famous party in history—the Duchess of Richmond’s ball, held on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.
Another reason it flashed to mind is because I've just finished my latest Lady Arianna Regency mystery, A Question of Numbers, (it’s available for pre-order here) and the party features prominently in one of the key scenes. (Honestly, what historical author could possibly resist using it in a book set in Brussels as the armies of Wellington and Napoleon prepared to clash!)
The duchess, born Lady Charlotte Gordon, daughter of the Duke of Gordon, married Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond, (who famously fought a duel with the Duke of York in 1789) and bore him seven sons and seven daughters. The family moved to Brussels, where the oldest son, William, Lord March, was serving as aide de camp for the Prince of Orange, commander of the Dutch forces allied with Wellington’s British army.