On 7 June 2012, The Countess of Wessex visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea to celebrate the annual Founder’s Day. The Parade, which commemorates the founding of the Hospital by King Charles II in 1682 was overseen by the Hospital’s Governor, General Sir Redmond Watt, KCB, KCVO, CBE, DL.
After meeting In-Pensioners and staff in the Hospital’s Infirmary, The Countess moved to Figure Court where she inspected the Pensioners on parade (average age 82 and a half) as they stood in four companies wearing their iconic Scarlet uniforms. The statue of King Charles II, which stands in the centre of Figure Court and all Parade participants and visitors were decorated with oak leaves in memory of the King taking refuge in an oak tree after the battle of Worcester in 1651.
Those who were able marched past and saluted Her Royal Highness to music provided by the Band of the Coldstream Guards. Those unable to walk either joined in the Parade on motorised scooters or were seated on the Parade Ground.
In her speech The Countess highlighted the bravery of the veterans and their well-deserved status in British minds, whilst the Governor referred to the Pensioners’ recent involvement in the Diamond Jubilee and upcoming participation in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
The Founder’s Day Parade concluded with three cheers being given for King Charles II, Her Majesty the Queen and The Countess of Wessex. For this the Pensioners removed their head-dress; a moment that is always well received by the audience.