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The 2 euro commemorative coin that generated a conflict: France vs Belgium

By rcintas on the

This week we bring you a polemic topic around the design and issue of a commemorative two euro coin. This year seems to be the year of the commemoration of Peace because the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, however it has not been the case for France and Belgium, which have been involved in a new conflict because of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo.

Batalla de Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo was a battle between the French army led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the British, Dutch and German troops led by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army of Field MarshalGebhard Leberecht von Blücher, near the town of Waterloo (Belgium), on 18th of June, 1815

This battle was the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars, which ended the French domination of the European continent and led to dramatic changes in territorial boundaries and also to the balance of power in Europe.

The defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte had, as an immediate consequence, the disappearance of his position in politics, the end of his empire, and the predominance of his allied powers, Britain, Prussia, and Russia, interested in restoring the old regime of absolutism monarchy and to face every liberal idea. This episode is considered one of the most decisive moments of modern history. After this defeat, Napoleon was exiled to the island of St. Helena where he died on the 5th of May, 1821.


Along this year, 2015,  Belgium was preparing to issue two commemorative two euro coins: one to recall the 30th anniversary of the European flag and another to commemorate the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo.

However. France opposed to it arguing that to commemorate Napoleon's defeat could be offensive for the French people. Belgium, meanwhile, considered itself the right to issue that coin, because the battle took part on its country. Belgium consider a positive fact Bonaparte's defeat because it ended the French domination of the European continent.

The strong opposition from France, together with the fact that Belgium was one of the instigator countries of the cancellation of the issuance of the commemorative coin for the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Marignano, announced by the Monnaie of Paris, ended up tipping the balance in favor of France. Finally, the European Commission decided to decline the issuance of this new coin.

 Waterloo battle coin

The controversy did not end there around this coin, the Mint of Belgium announced it had 180,000 minted coins already, so they would have to proceed to their destruction. In revenge they announced that although the coin would not go into circulation, they would mint coins of 2.5 and 10 euros to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle. The reason of that is because designs on these collection coins are not subject to review by the European Commission.

Minted Coins

The two euro coin was replaced by two different issued coins, one with a face value of 2.5 euros and another of 10 euros.

The coin of 2.5 euros recovers the design of the canceled one. Thus, on its tails shows the Leon Hill, an artificial hill that commemore the place where the Prince of Orange was wounded. And the battle tactics are drawn over the hill.

The tail of the coin shows a map of the European Union next to its value and the year it was issued. They have minted a total of 100,000 units of which 70,000 will be distributed in coin card, while another 30,000 will be part of the Belgian euroset 2015.

The set contains the usual series of coins of Belgium with the 8 values of the euro, on its heads it shows the effigy of King Philip of Belgium with year 2015. In the center it is placed the 2.50 euro coin.

 Coin set Belgium 2015

In addition, the whole euroset could be considered a commemoration of the battle, including outside the box image of the Lion Hill and a piece of the painting "Scotland Forever! " of Elizabeth Thompson. The interior shows the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, and Napoleon. Only 30,000 were manufactured and they will cost  27 €.

While this is a new face value in the coins minted by Belgium, it is not the first country to issue commemorative coins of 2.5 euros, as you might remember we already we wrote about some of these coins issued by Portugal.

In addition to the coin of 2.5 euros, Belgium has also minted another commemorative coin about the battle, with a face value of 10 euros.

The tails of this coin shows a detail of the painting The Battle of Waterloo by Jan Willem Pieneman in which it represented the moment when Duke of Wellington finds out the arrival of his Prussian allies, a first view of Guillermo of Orange on a stretcher, shot in the left shoulder. In the background you can see the silhouette of Napoleon

The tails has used the same design of the € 2.5 coin that represents the map of the European Union.

It is minted in 925’ silver, with a weight of 18.75 g. and a diameter of 33 mm. Last May, 42 units went on sale at a price of 10,000 € each. While the 2.5 euro coin was the first with that value issued by Belgium, it is not the the same for the 10 euro coin, of which they have already issued more than 20 different ones.

2 Euro Commemorative Coin

To replace the cancelled 2 euro coin, Belgium decided to issue a new coin dedicated to development. The reason of that is because 2015 is the European year dedicated to the external actions of the European Union and Europe's role in the world.

In addition, in 2015 it is expected to reach the Millennium Development Goals that the world agreed in 2000. The international community will decide what the future global framework is for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

The image of the coin shows a hand holding earth where there is a plant. In a concentric arch outside of the balloon it shows the inscription '2015 EUROPEAN YEAR FOR DEVELOPMENT ". Under the hand there is an indication of the nationality 'BE', and, on the right, there are the mintmarks of the Commissioner of currencies and monetary Brussels, a helmeted head of the Archangel Michael.

This will be a special issue, despite to be minted 250,000 units, they will not be of regular circulation, but 235,000 of them will be sold in Coin Cards, while the remaining 15,000 will be sold in Proof quality and in a special case. The launch of this new coin is planned for the middle of next September.