Prince Harry: I’m not getting married for a long time
Published 09/06/2011 | 15:57
An old age pensioner today tackled Prince Harry with the question on every eligible girl’s lips.
As the Prince made his way along the ranks at the annual Chelsea pensioners parade in London, William Titchmarsh, (85), asked him: "When are you getting married?"
Looking a little taken aback, the 26-year-old Prince laughed as he responded: "Not for a long time," before adding: "Who put you up to ask me that?"
Wheelchair-bound Mr Titchmarsh, a member of the Gunners Regiment, later joked: "They'll shoot me in the morning" while a fellow resident said: "Put him on a charge Sergeant Major."
Prince Harry, whose on-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy was in attendance when his brother William married Kate Middleton in April, was given a slightly easier ride as he inspected the other pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea to celebrate Founder's Day.
When introduced to the Hospital's oldest resident, Joe Britton, (99), who was seated at the edge of the Figure Court, he told him: "You should be in the front row."
Mr Britton, who joined the Army in 1933 and has lived at the Hospital for 17 years, replied: "When you get to 99, it's about time you finish."
All 300 residents marched past the Prince in the heat of the midday sun as Prince Harry became the first serving officer to review the parade for 37 years.
Their steps may have been slightly more unsteady than they once were but each managed a perfect salute as they were applauded by friends and relatives.
Dressed in their distinctive scarlet tunics, some were aided by walking sticks and others rode past in motorised wheelchairs to the tune of the Band of the Welsh Guards and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Irish Guards.
Those who were too frail remained seated as Prince Harry, now a qualified Apache helicopter pilot who is training with the British Army Air Corps, spoke of the "huge privilege" he felt to be in their presence.
Rarely able to resist a dig at his newly-wed brother, he said: "The Governor has told me that the average age of the In-Pensioners on parade today is 82-and-a-half years old.
"I find it terrifying that your drill is so much better than my brothers', but it doesn't surprise me."
He then joked that he expected to be chastised by those before him, adding: "I fully realise that afterwards, in my brother's defence, I am going to be gripped, not by one, but 216 Sergeant Majors, all at once.
"All I can say is that it would be an honour and a privilege."
Dwarfed by a gold statue of the Hospital's founder, King Charles II, the Prince, dressed in the uniform of the Blues and Royals, acknowledged that unlike those before him, he was just at the start of his military life.
He said: "I do have some experience of soldiering. The comradeship that comes with it is one of the things I treasure most in life.
"The Army, for me and thousands like me, is a family. In that respect, for veterans coming here, it must be like coming home.
"That is why this place matters, and always will."
Earlier, the Prince had toured the Hospital's infirmary and met some of the residents. He told one that young Army recruits should be brought to visit the veterans, who have each achieved so much.
The Hospital was set up in 1682 to provide a fitting home for the nation's war veterans.
New Governor, Sir Charles Redmond Watt, noted that one day it would be home to Prince Harry's contemporaries, as veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The last serving officer to review the Founder's Day parade was the Duke of Kent in 1974.