Tuesday 17 July 2007
Royal Hospital Chelsea Commemoration of the Bicententary of the death of Henry Benedict Stuart, July 2007
Left to Right: Philip Bonn, The Governor of the Royal Hospital (General the Lord Walker), Rafe Heydel-Mankoo
Left to Right: Philip Bonn, Viscount Maitland (Hereditary Bearer of the National Flag of Scotland, carrying the banner of the Royal Stuart Society), The Governor of the Royal Hospital (General The Lord Walker), Lord Aylmer, Lumsden of Cushnie, Rafe Heydel-Mankoo.
On Sunday members of the Royal Stuart Society and their guests gathered at the Royal Hospital Chelsea to commemorate the bicentenary of the death of Henry Benedict Stuart, the last member of the Royal House of Stuart (see earlier post "The Last Stuart", below, for an account of his life).
The day's events commenced at 10.40 am with a formal inspection of the Chelsea Pensioners, resplendent in their famous red tunics, by the Governor of the Royal Hospital, General The Lord Walker, GCB, CMG, CBE, equally resplendent in his uniform and plumed bicorn. David Lumsden of Cushnie, a council member of the Royal Stuart Society, accompanied the Governor during his inspection.
Following the inspection the Chelsea Pensioners marched into the Chapel for Matins, with the Royal Stuart Society following soon after. The banner of the Royal Stuart Society was processed into the Chapel and laid up at the altar by Viscount Maitland, the Hereditary Banner Bearer of the National Flag of Scotland (the office created for his ancestor by King Charles II). The 11 am service was conducted by the Rev. Richard Whittington MBE with a special sermon on the life of Henry (Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati, a Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church and Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals) provided by long-standing RSS member the Rev. Canon David Skeoch (pictured).
Rafe Heydel-Mankoo and David Lumsden of Cushnie process out of the Chapel.
Father Mark Turnham-Elvins leads the wreath-laying ceremony
At the conclusion of the service we processed out of the Chapel and to the Figure Court and the beautiful gold statue of Charles II (the Founder of the Royal Hospital) by Grinling Gibbons. Here Father Mark-Turnham Elvins led us in prayer following which four wreaths were laid at the statute in memory of Henry. The first was laid by Lord Aylmer (Chairman of the Council of the Royal Stuart Society), the second was laid by Philip Bonn and the third was laid by David Lumsden of Cushnie. As Henry is my ancestral 2nd cousin (through his Polish mother) I laid the fourth wreath, which was inscribed "Henry - A Polish Stuart".
(Above) Lord Aylmer lays a wreath on behalf of the Royal Stuart Society
(Above) Rafal Heydel-Mankoo lays a wreath to "Henry - A Polish Stuart"
At the conclusion of the wreath-laying ceremony a champagne reception was held around the statue. The forecast had threatened heavy showers however Henry clearly desired a clear view from above as the clouds were cleared away enabling the reception to take place under bright sunshine.
HSH Prince Raoul de Rohan with Christian Dewar-Durie
Peter Lole and Dr. Christopher Duffy deep in conversation whilst HSH Princess Raoul de Rohan engages a Chelsea Pensioner.
General The Lord Walker in conversation with David Lumsden of Cushnie and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo
At 12:45 the Pensioner Mace Bearer, acting as toastmaster, requested us to please proceed to the State Apartments for pre-prandials. We processed to the State Apartments led by Lord Maitland, again carrying the banner of the Royal Stuart Society.
The State Apartments consist of two main rooms, the Council Chamber and an Ante-Room. The Council Chamber is a magnificent oak-panelled room designed by Sir Christopher Wren and embellished by Robert Adam and still in its original stunning condition. There are a number of fine Stuart paintings by Van Dyke, Kneeler and Lely as well as important carvings and mouldings by William Emmett, John Grover and William Cleere.
At 1:15, following pre-prandials in the Ante Room, over 60 members and guests of the Royal Stuart Society proceeded to the Council Chamber for luncheon. The "Head Table" comprised: The Governor of the Royal Hospital and Lady Walker, Lord and Lady Aylmer, Lord and Lady Maitland, TSH Prince and Princess Raoul de Rohan, Anne Meinertzhagen (nee HSH Princess de Polignac), myself, Philip Bonn and Ludovic Marolles (most of whom are pictured here):
Lord Aylmer, General The Lord Walker, Lady Aylmer
Lord Maitland, HSH Princess Raoul de Rohan, Ludovic Marolles, Anne Meinertzhagen (nee Princess de Polignac)
The presence of the de Rohans provided a charming link to the last Stuarts (Charles and Henry in particular) particularly, as I noted in my brief speech, as Princess de Rohan is also related to Flora Macdonald.
Grace was offered by Father Mark Turnham-Elvins. Lord Aylmer proposed the toast to the Sovereign, Philip Bonn proposed the toast to "Henry and the Royal House of Stuart" and I proposed the toast to "The Royal Hospital". In his response, the Governor of the Royal Hospital, General The Lord Walker, provided us with a brief history of the Hosptial and the State Apartments before proposing a toast to "The Royal Stuart Society".
Dr. Paul Fox, David Lumsden of Cushnie, Father Mark Turnham-Elvins
Rafal Heydel-Mankoo and Dr. Paul Fox
Father Mark Turnham-Elvins, Gwyilym Ap Evans, Eoghain Murphy
David Lumsden of Cushnie and Dr. Martin Hogg
Christian Dewar-Durie and Major Michael Broadhurst
Council Members of the Royal Stuart Society: Left to Right: Peter Horrocks, Anthea Hickie, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Lord Aylmer, Rafe Heydel-Mankoo, David Lumsden of Cushnie, Dr. Eveline Cruickshanks.
Father Mark Turnham-Elvins with Lt. Col James Bogle
The day's events ended with coffee in the ante room at 3:30. Emerging from the State Apartments it was clear that, thankfully, the forecast torrential thundershowers had hit whilst we were dining. Leaving the Royal Hospital a group of us proceeded on to the Oxford and Cambridge Club for post-prandials and, eventually, dinner.
(My thanks to Prince Raoul de Rohan, Dr. Martin Hogg and Mr. Eoghain Murphy for kindly sending me their photographs and granting me permission to use them on my blog)