Anglophile American rockers The White Stripes have given their thanks to Britain's war veterans by performing for a group of Chelsea Pensioners. Chelsea Pensioners are war veterans who live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London and date back to the reign of King James II in the late 1600s.

It is not the first time the band has displayed their affections for British culture and traditions - on the cover of their 2003 album "Elephant" Jack White is shown brandishing a cricket bat and for their latest album the pair are dressed as a Pearly King and a Pearly Queen.

Jack White is also married to a British girl......

White Stripes win over elderly

By Andrew Perry
Daily Mail

War veterans: Chelsea Pensioners

The White Stripes have often displayed their affection for British traditions

American rock group The White Stripes hit the town yesterday in characteristically unusual fashion when they performed a secret show for twenty Chelsea pensioners at the Royal College Hospital in West London.

The duo, made up of 31-year-old singer and guitarist Jack White and 32-year-old singer and drummer Meg White, have always prided themselves on their idiosyncratic modus operandi - from their skeleton line-up and back-to-basics sound to their onstage uniform of red, black and white.

After their first UK appearance in 2001, John Peel famously enthused that they were the most exciting thing he’d seen since Jimi Hendrix.

The White Stripes have often since displayed their affection for Britain’s traditions, rock-related and otherwise.

The band played to senior approval

Jack White is married to Lancashire-born model Karen Elson. On the cover of their fourth album, Elephant, which included their world-best hit, Seven Nation Army, Jack White brandished a cricket bat.

For their latest album, Icky Thump, released next week, the duo are elaborately decked out as a pearly king and queen.

There was nevertheless a rather bemused atmosphere in the Royal College Hospital’s state apartments, when the band took to a small stage to perform a mid-afternoon set of six songs, in front of a seated row of English gents sporting pillar-box red frock coats and an array of military decorations.

Jack White with a cricket bat on their 2003 album "Elephant"

Jack White was at pains to make a bond with his audience, thanking them, “for letting us into your home, and for the service you’ve done your country and the rest of the world, especially the United States of America”.

After the show, he declined to comment further. “You should talk to these guys instead,” he said, “they’ve got so many stories.”

Some of the residents appeared a little baffled by such an intrusion on a sultry summer’s afternoon. Others, such as Brian Wells, 69, clapped along enthusiastically to the closing sequence of cover versions, which included an old ballad called You Belong To Me.

A Pearly King and Queen: A Pearly King (feminine form Pearly Queen) is a person dressed in a traditional cockney (London) costume covered in mother-of-pearl buttons. These costumes were treasured heirlooms, hand made and sometime representing much of a family's material worth. In their next album, the White Stripes are dressed up as a Pearly King and Queen.

“Jo Stafford sang that one originally,” Wells said afterwards, breaking momentarily into song, “I remember it from when I was serving out in Malaya. But these youngsters more than did it justice. I think they’re fantastic”.

The White Stripes will return to more conventional gigging with a show in Hyde Park tomorrow, much buoyed no doubt by such senior approval.

Pensioners’ playlist - what the White Stripes played to British war veterans

Apple Blossom – The White Stripes
Hotel Yorba – The White Stripes
I Can Tell That We Are Going To Be Friends – The White Stripes
St James Infirmiary Blues – Blues traditional
You Belong To Me – Jo Stafford
Bollweevil Song – Blues traditional