The Royal Hospital Chelsea celebrates its annual Founder’s Day and commemorates D-Day 80

5th June 2024

Today, the Royal Hospital Chelsea celebrated its annual Founder’s Day parade – the most iconic event in the Hospital’s calendar! 

This year, the Royal Hospital was delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who was invited to review the parade of Chelsea Pensioners. The Princess Royal also delivered a touching speech – dedicating a special tribute to the veterans of the Second World War, as this year’s Founder’s Day coincided with the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. 

The Princess Royal smiles as she reviews the parade of Chelsea Pensioners at Founders Day

The Princess Royal said: 

"Pensioners, staff, volunteers, ladies and gentlemen – it is a real pleasure for me to be here with you again at the Royal Hospital Chelsea for your Founder’s Day.” 

“Together, we remember the sacrifice of so many of those sailors, soldiers and aviators which started that road to freedom on the 6th June 1944.” 

Can I thank all of you, Chelsea Pensioners, for continuing to represent our nation so proudly at the countless commemorations, celebrations and other events throughout the year that you are invited to and volunteer for.” 

Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and The Princess Royal giving a speech in front of King Charles II statue

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, KCB OBE DL, also addressed guests and paid homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Second World War. 

"I congratulate all on parade for your excellent bearing of turnout and for your continued service to your nation as Chelsea Pensioners. Once again, I thank all staff together with our volunteers, families and friends and supporters for all that you do for our magnificent Chelsea Pensioners. Finally, Your Royal Highness, we thank you for honouring us with your presence and for the hard work that you do to inspire and give example to our Armed Forces and nation."

At the end of the parade, a contingent of Chelsea Pensioners who served during the Second World War, marched past the Reviewing Officer to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and honour all of those who served during the war. They were also thanked for their service by the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea who was also in attendance at this years event. 

Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea meeting Second World War veteran Chelsea Pensioners

An over centuries-year-old tradition, the Royal Hospital’s Founder’s Day honours its founder, King Charles II. Each year, Chelsea Pensioners gather in the Hospital’s iconic Figure Court, dressed in their scarlet coats adorned with oak leaves. 

Also known as Oak Apple Day, the oak leaves symbolise the famous tale of the future King’s escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 when he hid in an oak tree to evade capture. The renowned gold statue of King Charles II is decorated with oak leaves alongside the Chelsea Pensioners uniform as a tribute to the tale. 

The Royal Hospital Chelsea would like to thank The Princess Royal and all guests that attended this year’s Founder’s Day. Thank-you for joining us in honouring all the service men and women who fought during the D-Day landings and the Second World War.  


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