By REBECCA ENGLISH
Pointed question: The Prince shares a joke with a Chelsea Pensioner at London's Royal Hospital today where he was put on the spot with a question about his marriage plans
Blushing Prince Harry was put on the spot over his intentions towards on-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy today.
The 26-year-old royal was attending the annual Founder’s Day parade at London’s Royal Hospital – home to the world famous Chelsea Pensioners - when he was caught out by cheeky former soldier William Titchmarsh, 85.
As the prince greeted the retired soldier, Mr Titchmarsh made a reference to his elder brother’s recent wedding and asked: ‘So when are you getting married then?’
The third in line to the throne flushed a shade of pink and replied: ‘Not for a long time. Who put you up to do that to me?!’
‘Oh dear, they’ll shoot me in the morning,’ the pensioner replied.
‘Yes, put him on a charge Sergeant Major,’ his neighbour quipped.
Sorry sweetheart: The news will undoubtedly come as a blow to Harry's on/off girlfriend Chelsy Davy, pictured here with the Prince last year
Harry has been dating Zimbabwean born law student Chelsy Davy for more than five years although the pair have split up and reunited several times.
And while friends say they are still ‘an item’ and Chelsy attended Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in April as the prince’s date, she was recently spotted holidaying with friends in Spain and is said to have claimed she was single again
Stand up straight lads! Prince Harry inspects the veteran soldiers at London's Royal Hospital
Bachelor pad: Pensioner John Ley shows Harry around his room at the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
The hospital’s Founder’s Day is always held on a day close to May 29th, the birthday of Prince Charles who founded the hospital, and is normally reviewed by a member of the Royal Family.
Harry is understood to have been keen to take the parade for some time.
The average age of the scarlet-clad pensioners on parade this year was 83 with the eldest, Joe Britton, who will celebrate his 100th birthday later this year
Salute: The Prince was at the centre of proceedings at the Founder's Day Parade
Dashing: Harry wore his Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals uniform with his blue Army Air Corps beret
Hats off: The Pensioners raise their hats during today's Parade
The pensioner has been at the institution for 17 years and remained seated while the prince took the salute of fellow residents.
Harry later met him and joked: 'You should have been in the front line,' and the old soldier replied: 'When you reach 99 it's about time you finish.'
Harry, who wore his Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals uniform with his blue Army Air Corps beret, became the first serving officer since the Duke of Kent in 1974 to review the Founder's Day Parade of Chelsea pensioners.
All ears: Harry gave a moving speech, describing his pride at serving as a Junior Captain in the Army Air Corps. Over 1,000 guests were seated in stands
In the grounds of the hospital more than 1,000 guests were seated in stands with the elderly residents lined up in formation in front of them.
The old soldiers, who had an average age of 82, marched past Harry who took their salute as he stood below the gilt statue of Charles II.
All those at the ceremony including Harry wore oak leaf sprigs in memory of the hospital's royal founder who escaped after the battle of Worcester in 1651 by hiding in an oak tree.
Red coats: Harry became the first serving officer since the Duke of Kent in 1974 to review the Founder's Day Parade of Chelsea pensioners
The Royal Hospital was founded in 1682 to care for old and inured soldiers and is currently home to some 300 male and female pensioners.
Veterans are eligible to become a Chelsea Pensioner over the age of 65.
Touring some of the hospital’s facilities, Harry popped in to see one of the residents, John Ley, and asked him: ‘Are you friendly with your neighbours? Do you have pillow fights in the corridors, then?’
He also gave a short but moving speech, describing his pride and nerves as a Junior Captain in the Army Air Corps at being in front of an audience with ‘so many years of extraordinary military service’.
‘It is an honour and a thrill to stand in these surroundings. The Royal Hospital – this world famous place – represents all that is great about our Country: beauty, traditional – and the wisdom that does with that – selflessness and duty,’ he said.
And he couldn’t resist getting in a dig at his RAF Search and Rescue pilot brother – it is something of a dare between the pair to make a joke at each other’s expense when making public speeches.
‘I find it terrifying that your drill is so much better than my brother's, but it doesn’t surprise me,’ he quipped.