Sunday, 29 May 2011

Royal Oak Day - The Restoration of Rightful Monarchy under King Charles II, 1660

Ward's Book of Days:
MAY 29th

"On this day in history in 1660, Charles II was restored to the throne.

This day is known as Restoration Day, Royal Oak Day or Oak Apple Day and commemorates the day when Cromwell’s Commonwealth was abolished and the monarchy restored. 

Charles was in exile in France and returned to London, arriving on his thirtieth birthday, 29th May 1660, accompanied by tumultuous rejoicing. The day was declared a public holiday in perpetuity, it lasted until 1859, and became known as Oak Apple Day, a reference to the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester when Charles escaped capture by hiding in an oak tree. 

Pepys recorded in his diary: “Parliament had ordered the 29th May, the King’s birthday, to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he entering London that day.”  

Charles had a long and popular reign and became known as the Merry Monarch, in complete contrast to the previous regime. Theatres were opened, dancing and public entertainment were permitted once again and feasting and drinking became a way of life."

"Resolved, That a Bill be prepared for keeping of a perpetual Anniversary, for a Day of Thanksgiving to God, for the great Blessing and Mercy he hath been graciously pleased to vouchsafe to the People of these Kingdoms, after their manifold and grievous Sufferings, in the Restoration of his Majesty, with Safety, to his People and Kingdoms: And that the Nine-and-twentieth Day of May, in every Year, being the Birth Day of his Sacred Majesty, and the Day of his Majesty's Return to his Parliament, be yearly set apart for that Purpose..." , Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660-1667 (1802), pp. 49-50.

Amongst the traditional celebrations that take place across the country is the Founder's Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was founded by King Charles II. The Chelsea Pensioners are usually reviewed by a member of the Royal Family. During the course of this celebratory day the statue of Charles II in Figure Court is partly shrouded in oak leaves, and all participants in the Parade and spectators wear sprigs of oak leaves to commemorate the King's escape from forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The statue was re-gilded in 2002 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

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