Chelsea Pensioners and staff gathered together in the Great Hall on the last day of November to usher in the start of Advent with the first of the Royal Hospital’s annual Christmas traditions. 

The Christmas Cake Ceremony has been a tradition for over 70 years, beginning in 1949, and is a symbol of the enduring friendship between the UK and Australia.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea has been celebrating the Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses ever since the first Chelsea Pensioners arrived back in 1692. It's a tradition that spans over three centuries! But this year was very different.

When lockdown was first on the horizon, the Royal Hospital wanted to find activities that would keep the Pensioners interested and occupied, without putting them at risk. The Army drill of pace-sticking was suggested and not only has it proved extremely popular, the Chelsea Pensioner pace-stickers held their own against serving soldiers when they visited Sandhurst for the annual pace-sticking competition. Due to the exceptional circumstances this year, the usual international event was replaced by the first-ever tri-services contest.

The Christmas period officially got underway today at the Royal Hospital, as the Chelsea Pensioners took part in the tradition of stirring in the ingredients for the Christmas pudding.

Christmas Cake donated by the Australian Defence Force as a symbol of the enduring friendship between the UK and Australia

Every year the Chelsea Pensioners are welcome guests on the Channel Islands, for a celebration of history, Liberation and reconciliation.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea celebrates the Ceremony of the Christmas Cheese, an annual event organised by the Dairy Council.

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

Stay up to date with what's going on at The Royal Hospital by signing up for our e‑newsletter.

News

View the archive

Major Phil Shannon
Farewell to Major Phil Shannon

We prepare to say a fond farewell to Royal Hospital favourite Major Phil Shannon MBE

Founders Day 2022
Founder’s Day returns to its full glory at the Royal Hospital Chelsea

After 2020’s cancellation and last year’s pared back celebration due to the pandemic, the most iconic date in the Royal Hospital’s calendar returned to its full glory this year. 

Twitter

Follow @RHChelsea