Founder’s Day Cancelled

30th March 2020

​​With the country likely to be under prolonged isolation, the Governor of the Royal Hospital has reluctantly taken the decision to cancel the Founder’s Day celebrations this year.

Government guidance has now made it clear that we should all expect isolation and social distancing protocols to remain in force for the foreseeable future. The Royal Hospital has evaluated its busy forthcoming events schedule and has had to make some difficult decisions.

The health and well-being of our Pensioners continues to be our highest priority. Consequently, we have taken the decision to cancel a number of much-loved events held on the Hospital grounds including our 2020 Founder’s Day parade and Governor’s Review, (The RHS has already announced the cancellation of their Flower Shows this year). We know that you will appreciate and understand our reasons for making this decision.

The Governor, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL has released the following statement. 

"I have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel the Royal Hospital's Founder's Day celebrations this year. I did so with a heavy heart as the ceremony is one of our most valued and most loved traditions.

I know that you will understand that our overriding concern must be to keep the Pensioners away from potential harm. We have to focus all our efforts on providing them with the best possible care and support in the very challenging weeks ahead. Our staff have been remarkable and are working tirelessly to ensure that life continues at the Hospital in good spirits.

In previous times of national upheaval, such as when our country has been at war, my predecessors have had to make the same decision, yet the Pensioners always found a more modest way to acknowledge their Founder. I have no doubt that the same will be true this year. Right now, it is impossible to speculate over what form that might take, but it will be a private rather than public occasion.

I cannot overstate the seriousness of the battle we face. One of the things that has kept us going is the huge number of messages of encouragement and support for the Pensioners and for our dedicated staff that we have received. We have been so very moved.

The Pensioners would like me to express their collective good wishes to the Nation and they look forward to continuing to serve their country as representatives of the wider veteran community in more settled days."

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

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


View the archive

Grinling Gibbons statue of Charles II
The story behind the statue

On 3 August 2021 it will be 300 years since Grinling Gibbons’ death. Gibbons is celebrated as arguably the greatest decorative wood carver in British history. However, at the Royal Hospital we know him as the artist responsible for the striking gilded statue of our founder that stands in Figure Court – named in its honour. 

HRH Duke of Gloucester meeting Pensioner Tony Judge
Hope and happiness as Chelsea Pensioners celebrate the return of Founder’s Day

Founder’s Day is the highlight of the Royal Hospital’s calendar. Ever since 1692, it has been held on or close to 29 May – the birth of King Charles II and the date of his restoration to the throne. 


Follow @RHChelsea