Duke of Sussex Attends Historic Parade at Royal Hospital Chelsea

6th June 2019

This year the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s annual Founder’s Day parade coincided with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France and was attended by HRH the Duke of Sussex.

The Founder’s Day parade, which is also known as Oak Apple Day, is a celebration of the Royal Hospital’s inauguration in 1692 and is attended by all Chelsea Pensioners. The parade is always held on a date close to 29th May – the birthday of Charles II and the date of his restoration as King in 1660.

A member of the Royal Family attends the parade each year and reviews Veterans from The Royal Hospital, who now number almost 300. This year the Reviewing Officer was The Duke of Sussex who also made time before the parade to tour the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary - which is home to some of the Hospital’s less able Veterans. During his speech given at the parade today, His Royal Highness said:

“I am honoured to be at the Royal Hospital today as your reviewing officer once again, on this the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Not only is today a prominent historical occasion, it is also a special day in the Royal Hospital calendar - bringing together families, old friends and the chance to make new ones.”

“Both your founder King Charles II, and Sir Christopher Wren himself would be delighted to know that the institution which opened its doors to the first Pensioners over 325 years ago, continues to fulfil its original purpose of giving exceptional care to soldiers in retirement”

“Here, I see a community that continues to value the importance of teamwork which military service in particular can teach you. It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community”.

Serendipitously, this year’s Founder’s Day parade fell on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings which were pivotal in securing the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. While the parade follows a strict military protocol, there was some scope for special recognition of those 12 Pensioners who bravely fought as part of the Battle of Normandy.

Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw explained:

“Today is the official celebration of our founding over three centuries ago… it is also the 75th anniversary of the largest amphibious invasion the world had ever seen, which landed on the coast of Normandy in 1944 to begin the gruelling fight to free the continent from the scourge of Naziism”

“Several of our Pensioners took part in the landings, and in the subsequent campaign, typifying the extraordinary Service represented on parade today (a combined total of five and a half thousand years of service to King then Queen, and Country). It is important to remember the powerful Alliance of Nations that came together to conduct the liberation of Europe, and those countries who remained together in NATO, which continues today to deliver vital deterrence in the cause of peace.”

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