Prince Harry Steps Out in Uniform to Visit Veterans' Retirement Home on D-Day
Prince Harry is paying his respects to veterans.
The 34-year-old royal stepped out solo on Thursday for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a visit to the Royal Hospital Chelsea during their annual Founder’s Day Parade. Six veterans from the Normandy Landings will be taking part.
Each year, a member of the royal family is present for the event commemorating King Charles II’s founding of the home for veterans in 1681. Queen Elizabeth has reviewed the parade four times, and Harry previously met Chelsea Pensioners (as residents are called) in 2011.
Upon his arrival, Harry met with residents and learned more about the home’s programs and activities. The Duke of Sussex, who welcomed son Archie Harrison with Meghan Markle last month, then reviewed the Chelsea Pensioners, who stood in four companies in the Royal Hospital’s central courtyard for inspection. He also made a speech.
At one point, Harry helped a veteran make a poppy emblem — the commemorative emblem that veterans, supporters, and members of the public wear on remembrance days.
“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,” Harry said in a speech.
He continued later, “Now I stand here before you to not only acknowledge the incredible contribution you have made to this nation but to acknowledge that you, my friends, are also seriously good fun to be around.”
“You will always stand out in your scarlet coats and white gloves, but to me, whether I see you at Westminster Abbey, the Chelsea Flower Show, Twickenham Stadium, or the pub, I notice that you are always smiling,” said the prince.
Founder’s Day is also known as Oak Apple Day, referring to the oak tree that King Charles II hid in to avoid being captured by Parliamentary forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
This annual celebration commemorates that escape and as a lasting tribute to the king’s escape, the statue of King Charles II in the Figure Court at Royal Hospital Chelsea is partly shrouded in oak leaves.
Over 300 Army veterans live at the Royal Hospital today, including those who have served in Korea, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and World War II.