The Duke of Kent has visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea to enjoy the Chelsea Pensioners’ 322nd annual Founder’s Day Parade, which commemorates the founding of the Hospital by King Charles II in 1682.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea’s Founder's Day, also known as Oak Apple Day is always held on a day close to 29 May - the birthday of Charles II and the date of his restoration as King in 1660.
The Oak reference commemorates the escape of the future King Charles II 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 Duke of Kent, who was last Reviewing Officer at Founder’s Day in 2000, toured the Hospital for the first time since renovation work began.
In his speech His Royal Highness said: “I was much impressed by the Infirmary, a wonderful building which houses state of the art facilities. I was most interested to learn of the enormous efforts made to establish the Royal Hospital as a beacon of excellence in the domain of care.
“Most impressive also are the new berths in the Long Wards which now enable In-Pensioners, quite deservedly, to enjoy accommodation that has been built to the highest modern specifications, and yet remains in keeping with their historic surroundings.”
The In-Pensioners will stand for inspection by His Royal Highness in four companies. On parade was the Hospital’s oldest In-Pensioner Joe Britton who is 102 years and eight months old.
The average age of In-Pensioners on parade was 82 years and six months.
The music for the parade was provided by the Band of the Grenadier Guards (Director of Music Major K Davies LRSM ALCM) and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of the Coldstream Guards (Director of Music Major D Wolfendale BA (Mus) LRSM ALCM).
Chelsea Pensioner and former Typex Operator Helen Andrews visits the famous codebreaker site
Chelsea Pensioners have recognised the work efforts of staff who will be working over the Christmas period