Myrtle grown from her wedding bouquet and a loving note from her beloved son and now king, Charles III: these are just some of the significant elements that make up the symbolic floral wreath placed on Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin. Not only that, all the flowers in the funeral wreath have been personally selected by Charles from the gardens of Buckingham Palace among other royal residences.
Members of the royal family, world leaders and public figures gathered at Westminster Abbey on Monday for the funeral of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, and to send her onto her final resting place in the royal vault alongside her husband Prince Philip at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Charles and Queen Consort Camilla walked in procession behind the queen’s coffin as it was carried through the church. The coffin was covered by the Royal Standard flag with the Imperial State Crown sitting on a cushion alongside a wreath of flowers. In the wreath was a handwritten note from King Charles III: “In loving and devoted memory. Charles R" (for Rex, or king).
Carefully chosen, sustainable
The 96-year-old queen loved flowers from the garden of her official residence at Buckingham Palace, and each flower in her funeral wreath had been chosen for its “special meaning". According to a report in the BBC, gardeners at Buckingham Palace would send up a fresh posy of flowers for her desk every Monday.
Gardener Alan Titchmarsh is quoted as saying the queen “loved primroses, lily-of-the-valley and other modest blooms far more than elaborate exotics; something that speaks volumes about her personality".
Hence, for the funeral, Charles requested flowers and foliage from the gardens of the palace, and country homes previously occupied by him — Clarence House in London and Highgrove House in Gloucestershire.
According to a report in Huffington Post, the wreath has myrtle, rosemary, English oak. Rosemary resembles remembrance; myrtle, an ancient symbol of a happy marriage, and cut from a plant grown from a sprig of the queen’s wedding bouquet in 1947; and England oak for the strength of love.
Additional flowers include “scented pelargoniums; garden roses; autumnal hydrangea; sedum; dahlias; and scabious, all in shades of gold, pink and deep burgundy, with touches of white to reflect the Royal Standard”, as quoted by the article.
The wreath is also in line with Charles’ passion for the environment and has been crafted in a completely sustainable manner — “in a nest of English moss and oak branches” with no use of floral foam.
Flowers, foliage explained
Myrtle: The wreath has myrtle grown from a sprig in her wedding bouquet in 1947, as a symbol of her happy and long marriage of 73 years to Prince Philip. It is also included in wedding bouquets as it is an ancient symbol of marriage.
Rosemary: A herb that has been a symbol of remembrance as herbalists have long thought that it is good for the memory
English oak: In a nod to the queen’s duty, a national symbol of strength that also denotes the strength of love
Other flowers in the wreath: Scented pelargoniums; garden roses; autumnal hydrangea; sedum; dahlias; and scabious, in shades of gold, pink and deep burgundy with touches of white chosen to reflect the colours of the royal flag
Traditionally sombre in white and green tones, a royal funeral wreath can also depict a flag like it was done today, London florist Gemma Kavanagh was quoted as saying in the BBC article.
Personal touches from death to final resting place
The royal family has ensured personal touches to all that has happened from the day the queen died on September 8 to the journey to her final resting place at St George’s Chapel. The devil is in the detail as even her funeral wreaths have been crafted with flowers from royal gardens.
Unlike on the funeral day on Monday, white funeral wreaths have sat atop the queen’s coffin. According to the BBC, the coffin was adorned by a wreath made of dahlias, sweet peas, phlox, white heather and pine fir collected by her staff when it left the Balmoral Castle, the queen’s summer retreat in the Scottish Highlands.
During her lying-in-state at Westminster Hall, the wreath was crafted with pine from the Balmoral estate as well as pittosporum, lavender and rosemary from Windsor, the BBC said.