Earlier this week I updated the flowers in the two pots that flank my front door. With Valentine’s Day swiftly approaching I selected pink ranunculus and white candytuft. This led me to think about the different types of bouquets that Royal brides choose. So today’s post is Royal Wedding Wednesdays Bouquet Toss.
Royal Wedding Wednesdays Bouquet Toss
There are two traditions associated with Royal brides. The first is that a sprig of Royal Myrtle (‘Myrtus communis’) is gathered from a bush at Osborne House. This was Queen Victoria’s main residence on the Isle of Wight.
The royal myrtle plant was given to Queen Victoria in a posie by Albert’s grandmother in Gotha, Germany. The couple brought back the plant from Germany to the Isle of Wight, where it has thrived ever since.
In ancient Greece, the myrtle plant was a symbol of love. It was sacred to Demeter, the goddess of fertility as well as to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The ancient Romans inherited that tradition. With it being sacred to Venus, the goddess of love. Later myrtle became a Hebrew symbol for marriage. The symbolism remains to this day.
Here is Queen Victoria, with her family, shown taking tea amongst her beloved myrtle.
Queen Victoria’s bridal bouquet contained a single flower, snowdrops. It was Prince Albert’s favorite flower. She also wore orange blossoms in her hair and pinned to her gown. This caused other brides to follow suit. When the blossom began to be in short supply wax replicas were used.
Victoria, the Princess Royal
Queen Victoria’s daughter Victoria, the Princess Royal, married Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (who later became the future Kaiser, German Emporer Frederick III) in 1858. A sprig of myrtle was cut from the plant for her wedding bouquet. She was the first Royal bride to include myrtle in her bouquet.
John Phillip’s The Marriage of Victoria, Princess Royal, 25 January 1858, c. 1860
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
The second tradition was begun in 1923 by the Queen Mother (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). She laid her bridal bouquet at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey on her wedding day to Prince Albert “Bertie”, the Duke of York (later King George VI) in 1923. She did so in honor of her brother, Fergus, who died during the First World War. This is the reason you do not see her bouquet in official wedding photos.
This tribute has continued. Royal brides now have the bouquet delivered to Westminster Abbey the day after the ceremony.
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon carried a bouquet of white heather and white roses. The white heather symbolizes protection and wishes will come true, while the white rose represents innocence and purity as well as honor and reverence.
Queen Elizabeth’s bouquet carries with it a mystery. Martin Longman, a florist with Worshipful Company of Gardeners made the bouquet overnight in his shop in Ludgate Hill and delivered it personally to Princess Elizabeth’s apartment at Buckingham Palace on the morning of November 20, 1947.
The all-white bouquet featured three types of white British-grown orchids: Cattleya, Odontoglossum, and cypripedium as well as a sprig of myrtle. That sprig was then also planted to start a second special myrtle source. The orchid’s meaning is love, beauty, refinement and is also a Chinese symbol for many children.
Misfortune seemed to follow Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day. Her wedding tiara snapped in two, her pearls were left at the wrong palace and later, sometime during the newlywed’s return to the Palace or during the wedding breakfast, the wedding bouquet was mislaid and could not be found in time for the group picture.
Lady Diana Spencer
Lady Diana avoided the same fate as her mother in law by having two identical bouquets made. I cannot even begin to think about how her arms must have ached from carrying this bouquet around on her wedding day in 1981. It measured 42″ long and 15″ wide and was said to weigh between 4 to 6 pounds. It was a gift from the Worshipful Company of Gardeners and was created by florist David Longman, whose father had created Queen Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet.
Lady Diana Spencer’s waterfall bouquet had the Osborne House myrtle and another sentimental flower, yellow ‘Mountbatten’ roses, in honor of the recently deceased Lord Louis Mountbatten. He was Prince Charles’ great-uncle and “honorary grandfather”. The fragrant cascade echoed Queen Elizabeth’s with Odontoglossum orchids. It also contained lily of the valley, Hedera ivy, gardenias, freesias, Veronica, stephanotis and Tradescantia leaves.
Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, carried a stunning bouquet of white orchids and stephanotis.
Sarah, The Duchess of York
Sarah Ferguson, who became the Duchess of York when she married Prince Andrew, carried a crescent-shaped bouquet of cream lilies ~Majesty, palest yellow roses ~ Joy, Friendship, gardenias ~ Secret Love, lilies-of-the-valley ~ Sweetness and the traditional sprig of myrtle.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Sophie Rhys ~ Jones carried a bouquet of ivory roses, calla lilies ~Beauty ~, stephanotis, clustered lily of the valley and ivory freesia when she married Prince Edward on June 19, 1999.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, carried a small bouquet of lilies of the valley and primroses ~ I Can’t Live Without You ~ when she wed Prince Charles in 2005.
Queen Mary carried orange blossoms, “House of York” roses, white orchids, lilies of the valley and white “The Bride” carnations when she wed King George V.
Yet where was her daughter, Princess Mary’s, bouquet?
Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, had a lovely bouquet of lilies and the future Queen (lower left) as a flower girl.
Lady Alice Montagu Douglas-Scott
Her sister in law remains one of my favorite Royal brides. Lady Alice Montagu Douglas-Scott had a crescent-shaped bouquet of English garden roses for her wedding to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in 1935.
Princess Grace of Monaco
Grace Kelly’s bridal bouquet featured lily-of-the-valley. After her religious ceremony, she left the bouquet on the altar of the Chapel of St. Dévote. Her “Juliet cap” headpiece was decorated with orange blossoms.
The Queen’s Granddaughter
Zara Phillips, daughter of Anne, Princess Royal, had a lovely bouquet made of white calla lilies, silver Senecio (dusty miller), lily of the valley, and hydrangeas. Giving a nod to the Scottish location of her nuptials she also included alpine thistles.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
When marrying Prince William, Kate Middleton used two sprigs of myrtle in her bridal bouquet. One was from Queen Victoria’s Myrtle and the other from Queen Elizabeth’s myrtle. The sprigs were nestled in the bouquet alongside lilies of the valley, ivy, hyacinths, and sweet William.
What is your favorite Royal bouquet?