Camilla Offers Condolences To Chelsea Pensioners Over Coronavirus Deaths

The Duchess of Cornwall attended a ceremony at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and paid tribute to military personnel both past and present.

The Duchess of Cornwall has expressed her "heartfelt sympathy" to Chelsea Pensioners who have lost colleagues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Camilla attended a special ceremony at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London on Wednesday, after missing the Pensioners’ annual Founder’s Day in June due to the COVID-19 crisis.

More than 30 socially distanced Pensioners in their famous scarlet coats and tricorn hats were on parade and inspected by the duchess.

She told the veterans in a speech: "I know that you have been through a particularly tough time of late, having lost 10 Pensioners to COVID-19.

"I should like to express my heartfelt sympathy to the families of those who have died, and to each of you as you go through the painful process of adjusting to the gap left by those much-loved friends."

The duchess also spent time talking to the Pensioners during the ceremony, as well as Armed Forces personnel who have been working as cooks among other roles at the retirement and nursing home.

Camilla said those on parade know "about the challenges and sacrifices of military duty", saying: "This has been clearly demonstrated by two recent examples. 

"Firstly, a few weeks ago, we marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a day which some of you might remember. We recalled with gratitude the great victory that our Armed Forces won for us.

Chelsea Pensioners wore face masks during the visit of the Duchess of Cornwall (Picture: PA).

“Then, in a very different context, we turned to a younger generation of servicemen and women as the recent pandemic broke out.

"Proving themselves your worthy successors, they have helped to build hospitals, establish testing sites, repatriate our citizens, deliver PPE at home and abroad, and develop a track and trace application to help combat the spread of the virus.

"And all the while continuing to assure our defence at home and abroad.

"In times of war and times of peace, whether seen or unseen, the Armed Forces support and strengthen our nation, just as each one of you Chelsea Pensioners did throughout your careers."

When the duchess first arrived at the Royal Hospital, she was greeted by Professor Deborah Sturdy, director of in-patient health and wellbeing, and asked her how the institution had coped during the pandemic.

Prof Sturdy replied: "It has been a challenge but the staff have been absolutely fantastic and the Pensioners have been incredibly compliant – it’s been a difficult couple of months but everyone has been working really hard."

Cover image: The Duchess of Cornwall inspected the Chelsea Pensioners during her visit (Picture: PA).