Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal attended the 324th annual Founder's Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and officially opened the recently refurbished Wren designed ‘Long Wards’ by unveiling a plaque at the historic home of the Chelsea Pensioners today.
Following the parade, The Princess Royal was taken on a tour of the Chelsea Pensioners’ newly refurbished accommodation (pictured above) to officially open the eight year renovation project in a short ceremony.
The ‘Long Wards’ were originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century and have only been updated twice in over 300 years. This is the first time since the Royal Hospital’s opening that all Chelsea Pensioners have their own bedroom, study and en suite shower room facilities.
The Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea General Sir Redmond Watt KCB KCVO CBE DL thanked The Princess Royal for reviewing the Chelsea Pensioners. He said: “Thank you for reviewing the Pensioners on parade, and I am delighted to say that many of the many British corps, regiments and military charities of which you are Colonel in Chief, Colonel or Patron are represented here today.”
He continued: “The good news this year is that we have mostly completed the modernisation of the buildings and this historic site is now in very good order with excellent new accommodation for all our Pensioners.”
The Royal Hospital Chelsea’s Founder’s Day, also known as Oak Apple Day, is always held on a day close to the birthday of King Charles ll (29 May) and the date of his restoration as King in 1660. The Oak commemorates the escape of the future King Charles ll after the Battle of Worcester (1651) when he hid in an oak tree to avoid capture by the Parliamentary forces, and is expressed today through all members of the Parade wearing oak leaves.
The Chelsea Pensioners have paraded at the Royal Hospital Chelsea's Founder's Day on 8 June, reviewed by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex.
Every year the Chelsea Pensioners are welcome guests on the Channel Islands, for a celebration of history, Liberation and reconciliation.