A speech delivered by The Duke of Sussex at Founder’s Day

Published 6 June 2019

We should all be incredibly proud and grateful knowing that 46 of you here fought in the Second World War... I thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you all the health and happiness you so richly deserve.

The Duke of Sussex

I am honoured to be at the Royal Hospital today as your reviewing officer once again, on this the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

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.

Both your founder King Charles II, and Sir Christopher Wren himself would be delighted to know that the institution which opened its doors to the first Pensioners over 325 years ago, continues to fulfil its original purpose of giving exceptional care to soldiers in retirement.

They’d also be amused to hear about the late night cricket in the hallways! Much less the serenading by Colin, who I am told is Royal Variety standard, but let’s assume they haven’t seen your synchronised buggy drill quite yet!

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.

Don’t ever underestimate the joy that you bring to everyone you meet. You represent something really quite special, you are special, and society will always recognise that.  That is an important part of your legacy.

Here, I see a community that continues to value the importance of teamwork which military service in particular can teach you.

It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community.

I have just visited the infirmary and seen the excellent facilities and care being provided to those pensioners who are unable to be on parade here today. No doubt they’re watching from the windows cheering you all on.

I think we should all be incredibly proud and grateful knowing that 46 of you here fought in the Second World War; many of you in other conflicts including Korea, Malaya, Borneo and that the ‘youngsters’ among you wear Northern Ireland, South Atlantic and First Gulf War Medals with pride. 

On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy Landing veterans.

To all who are on parade today, I can only say that you are a constant reminder of the great debt we owe those who have served this nation.

You embody the fitting home that awaits them in the peace and tranquillity of the Royal Hospital, should they want it.

But more widely, wherever you are, your presence is a symbol of the sacrifices that have been made by all veterans to sustain the freedoms and democracy we value so deeply today.

Ladies and Gentleman, could I ask that those who are able to, please stand in recognition of our veterans. We stand together and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

And for you here today, who have served us so greatly and with such honour, I congratulate you on the smartness of your turnout and the steadiness of your bearing. I thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you all the health and happiness you so richly deserve.