This magnificent Egyptian-style cloak was worn by Napoleon the night before the Battle of Waterloo. This magnificent cloak with hood, made of red felt, lined with golden silk brocade and embroidered with silver thread and tassels, may have been made in France but was copied from a North African Berber burnous. It was looted by the Prussians from one of Napoleon’s abandoned carriages when he was fleeing in defeat after the Battle of Waterloo.
Following his invasion of Egypt in 1798, Napoleon became captivated by Eastern culture. He also never missed a chance to wear elaborate and decorative attire. Whereas Wellington was plainly dressed in dark blue during the battle, Napoleon wore the green, gold and white uniform of a colonel of the Chasseurs à Cheval under his grey coat. One cannot imagine Wellington relaxing in an exotic burnous while on campaign.
After it’s capture, the burnous was given to the Prussian general Marshal Blücher, who in turn, presented it to the Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent. It is now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The Prince, who later became King George IV, was so obsessed by Waterloo that he began to believe that he had been present at the battle. As a result of this interest he acquired a huge collection of paintings, objects and memorabilia pertaining to Napoleon, Wellington and the battle.
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This object is in the collection of Windsor Castle