HRH The Princess Royal reviews the Chelsea Pensioners at the 324th annual Founder’s Day Parade

9th June 2016

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. 

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

HRH, The Prince Philip - Duke of Edinburgh Painting
Chelsea Pensioners share recollections of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Royal Hospital Chelsea community continues to send our thoughts and condolences to the Royal Family at this difficult time. Many of our Chelsea Pensioners were fortunate enough to meet HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Hospital’s Founder’s Day celebrations or through his other official duties.

Infirmary Bombing
Remembering the Soane Infirmary bombing

Today marks 80 years following the bombing of the Royal Hospital’s Infirmary during the Second World War. The magnificent Infirmary, which once stood on the current site of the National Army Museum, was hit by a parachute bomb on 16 April 1941 – destroying most of the building and tragically ending the lives of 13 people.


Follow @RHChelsea