The Queen has made her annual visit to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea in London.
Wearing a pale pink coat, white gloves and a classic string of pearls, Her Majesty was greeted by the President of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Sir Nicholas Bacon.
The Monarch was accompanied by The Princess Royal, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra.
Monday is traditionally reserved for a VIP and Press Day when, in addition to the Royal Family, politicians and celebrities wander the show gardens and floral displays, often sipping champagne as they take in the splendour of the exhibits and chat to other famous faces.
The Royal Family has been visiting the Chelsea Flower Show since Queen Alexandra opened it in 1913. The Queen has only missed the event on two occasion since her Coronation.
Established in 1913, the #ChelseaFlowerShow has become one of the world’s greatest showcases for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe.
?King George V and Queen Mary visit the Show in 1930. pic.twitter.com/WmyFQw2ZQP
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 21, 2018
Members of the Royal Family are known to have been keen gardeners over the years. Prince Charles is a particularly enthusiastic gardener and has told of sharing his love for gardening with his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, at his Gloucestershire home, Highgrove.
Charles’ influence must have rubbed off, as three years ago, garden designer Matt Keightley was asked to design a garden to highlight the work of Prince Harry’s Sentebale Charity.
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This year Keightley has designed the RHS Feel Good Garden, celebrating 70 years of the NHS. The garden, which promotes gardening for health, happiness and wellbeing, aims to provide a contemporary and therapeutic space that focuses on the positive impact that gardens and gardening can have on our health, and in particular mental health.
The Queen chatted to Keightley about his design and then headed to view other gardens, including the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden, inspired by the Yorkshire Dales; the Wuhan Water Garden, China, which showcases the natural landscape of Hubei Province; and the Morgan Stanley garden for the NSPCC.
Earlier in the day, The Countess of Wessex also wandered through the NSPCC Garden; Sophie, who is Patron of the children’s charity, heard how its design reflects the charity’s aim to protect children at risk by creating a safe and shielding environment.
At the Feel Good Garden, Sophie was presented with a posey by Dor Hastings, a volunteer at the Flower Show.
Earlier in the day, Prince Andrew (The Duke of York) his daughter Princess Beatrice also visited the site.
Judging at the show took place on Sunday, but medals won’t be awarded until first thing on Tuesday morning, just before the gates open to the general public. With a RHS Gold Medal being one of the most coveted prizes in the world of horticulture, exhibitors work tirelessly for months designing their displays and growing the finest plants, trees and flowers.
Last year, The Queen appeared on an episode of the BBC radio programme, Gardeners’ Question Time, which was recorded at Frogmore House – scene of Harry and Meghan’s evening’s wedding reception – to mark the programme’s 70th anniversary. During the programme, the Sovereign revealed that although she does not describe herself as an expert gardener, she has early memories of her mother being an active gardener and that: “plants, trees and flowers have been the source of pleasure throughout my life.”
The programme also revealed that The Queen’s favourite flowers are primroses, she is also known to be fond of wildflowers.
This year at Chelsea there are 10 main show gardens, eight artisan gardens and a new ‘Space to Grow’ category perfect for Londoners with small plots. Half of this year’s gardens are designed by women, the greatest proportion in the show’s history, and we could see the show’s top award – Best in Show going to a woman this year.
Sarah Price has designed the M&G Garden, which is hotly tipped for the top accolade. Her romantic, Mediterranean haven inspired by Monet features orange-purple rammed earth structures and luminous planting.
Another front-runner is Jo Thompson who has created the Wedgwood Garden, a tea garden for a 21st-century woman, with a sculptural curved pavilion as the centerpiece.
Her Majesty is patron of the Royal Horticultural Society which takes over the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea – home to the famous scarlet coated Chelsea Pensioners – each May for the country’s leading horticultural show.
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The Royal Family are clearly not letting Saturday’s wedding celebrations slow down their work schedule, and tomorrow, the newly-married Harry and Meghan – now known as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – will join The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in the gardens of Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles’ 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration.