During the Queen’s funeral service, blooms in shades of deep burgundy, pink, and gold were placed among lush green foliage to decorate the coffin. The vibrant flowers and plants were picked for their symbolic meaning and were taken from the gardens of royal residences.
The wreath for Her Majesty’s funeral included flowers and leaves that were cut from the grounds of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, and Highgrove House in Gloucestershire at the order of King Charles III.
It had plants chosen for their symbolic qualities:
Rosemary for remembering: For a very long time, rosemary has been used to remember.
Myrtle, the traditional representation of a happy marriage, was used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet in 1947. It was cut from a plant that was cultivated from a sprig of myrtle.
The flowers in the Queen’s funeral wreath featured 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 colours in the Royal Standard flag on which it sat.
Royal funeral wreaths have traditionally been sombre, in white and green tones, says Gemma Kavanagh, from London florist Moyses Stevens, but the colours of the flowers can also be chosen to reflect a flag – which is what we saw on Monday.
King Charles is well-known for his commitment to the environment and, at his request, the wreath was made in a sustainable way – without the use of floral foam but, instead, created in a nest of English moss and oak branches.
Rosemary, a herb, has long been a symbol of remembrance because herbalists thought it was good for memory, says Prof Fiona Stafford, author of The Brief Life of Flowers.
“But rosemary is also associated with love and loyalty, and it was used for marriage bouquets or for burials, as well for strewing on the dead. So it’s a really, really appropriate one to be part of the wreath,”
Rosemary also featured when the King gave his first TV address to the nation. He was flanked by a portrait of his mother on one side and a small silver vase with sweet peas and sprigs of rosemary on the other.
The Queen loved flowers from her garden – every Monday, the gardeners at Buckingham Palace would send up a fresh posy of flowers for her desk when she was in residence. Gardener Alan Titchmarsh recalled in an article that the Queen
“loved primroses, lily-of-the-valley and other modest blooms far more than elaborate exotics; something that speaks volumes about her personality”.
Unlike Monday’s colourful wreath, more traditional white funeral wreaths sat atop the Queen’s coffin on her final journey from Balmoral, via Edinburgh, to Westminster Hall in London. But all included personal flowers cut from royal gardens.
When the Queen’s coffin left Balmoral Castle, it was accompanied by a wreath made of dahlias, sweet peas, phlox, white heather and pine fir, all collected by her staff from the Balmoral Estate. The sweet peas echoed the Queen’s choice of flowers for her husband, Prince Philip’s wreath in 2021.
When she was lying in state in Westminster Hall, the wreath included pine from the gardens at Balmoral – and pittosporum, lavender and rosemary from the gardens at Windsor.
The Queen will later be buried with Prince Philip in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor. The flowers in St George’s Chapel will include:
- Longiflorum lilies “Watch up”, Bouvardia “Royal white”, Dahlia “Caro”, Dahlia “Maarten Zwaan, Eusroma “Rosita” (Lisianthus) and Rose “Avalanche”
- With greenery: Eucalyptus “Popules Bes”, Soft ruscus, and other greenery picked from Home Park