It is etched in the annuls of the Rag Club history that the first Duke of Wellington agreed to be our founding patron on one condition: that membership would be open to officers of the Navy and Marines, as well as those of the Army.
Although the Duke and Nelson only ever met once, we may assume that the Vice-Admiral, already a national hero at the time, made an impression on the then Major-General Wellesley. It is recorded that on 12th September 1805 the two men happened to be in the waiting room of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at Downing Street. They discussed the state of the nation and affairs of the continent, after which Wellington recalled ‘I don’t know that I ever had a conversation that interested me more’(1) and stated that Nelson ‘really was a very superior person.’(2) The following day Nelson left London to join HMS Victory at Portsmouth, and just over a month later the Battle of Trafalgar was won, fatefully at the cost of his life.
Today, Nelson is regarded as a brilliant naval commander and one of the greatest military leaders of his time. With Wellington, Britain was safeguarded from its enemies both on land and at sea.
(1) Longford, Elizabeth, Wellington: Years of the Sword, Harper and Row, New York, 1969, p. 110
(2) Ibid, p. 111