Every year the Duke of Wellington gives a copy of this silk “Quit Rent” flag to the Queen or King of Britain. It serves as a symbolical rent payment for the Duke’s ancestral home of Stratfield Saye.

Stratfield Saye is a splendid mansion in Hampshire. It was given to the first Duke of Wellington by the British government in 1817, in gratitude for his leading the Allied Army to victory at the Battle of Waterloo. To acknowledge the generous gift of a house and 600,000 acres of land, the Duke of Wellington makes a token “rent” payment of a flag every year.

In recent years, the Queen and the current Duke have met in June, in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, for a ceremonial presentation. The flag, embroidered with the current year, is then hung in the Waterloo Chamber.

This practice is sometimes called “peppercorn rent”, meaning any trivial payment that is used to mark a gift of land. Theoretically, if the Duke of Wellington ever skipped a year’s “rent”, the property would be forfeited and the Duke and his family would have to move out. A spare copy of the flag is always kept at Stratfield Saye, just in case it is lost or damaged on the way to the presentation ceremony.

The flag is modelled on a French Tricolore, the revolutionary flag which was used by the French Army at Waterloo. This symbolises the defeat of Napoleon, and the gift of Stratfield Saye demonstrates how important the Allied victory at Waterloo was to the British government and people.
This specific copy of the flag was used during the Second World War, in the years 1940-1944. During the War, silk was rationed and in short supply, because it was used to make parachutes. To avoid wasting silk, the same flag was given as payment several years in a row. The last two digits of the embroidered date are missing, so it could be reused.

Find it here

This object is in the collection of Stratfield Saye