Queen opens first virtual Chelsea Flower Show and Royals select their favourite blooms


The Queen worked behind the scenes to ensure the first virtual Chelsea Flower Show flourishes – by getting her family to post photos of their favourite blooms. The monarch, 94, who usually tours the event before it opens each year, also sent a message of support to organisers the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) yesterday.

The Queen

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She wrote: “On the occasion of the opening of the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show 2020, I send my best wishes to all those associated with the Royal Horticultural Society. My family and I have always enjoyed visiting the show, and I know that your members and supporters will be disappointed that they are unable to attend in person this year. As patron of the RHS, I was pleased to hear that you will be providing gardening advice and virtual sessions on your website, from Monday 18 to Saturday May 23.

“I am sure that my grandmother, Queen Mary, who first attended the Chelsea Flower Show in 1916, would be delighted that many people today have an enthusiasm for horticulture, and that gardening remains a popular pastime in the United Kingdom.

“As you adapt to the present circumstances, I hope you find this unique event enjoyable and interesting.”

The Queen, who has rarely missed a show during her 68-year reign, also revealed one of her favourite blooms was lily-of-the-valley, which she included in her Coronation bouquet.

She posted a photo of the plant in Buckingham Palace’s gardens. Other royals also shared pictures of their favourite flowers under the hashtag #mychelseagarden.

The Queen at the show in 1984 (Image: -)

Previous show

The Queen beside exhibit of her profile at a past show (Image: -)

The Queen at the show in 2002

The Queen at the show in 2002 (Image: -)

The RHS is urging people to post “positive images of plants and beautiful gardens to help ease anxiety and provide a moment of respite in the current circumstances”.

Organisers are hoping that Virtual Chelsea, which runs until Saturday on www.rhs.org.uk, will help raise spirits during the lockdown, especially as it coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Royal Family’s association with the show spans more than a century with Queen Alexandra, the monarch’s great-grandmother, opening the event in 1913 and her grandmother Queen Mary first visiting it in 1916.

The Queen has been patron of the RHS since 1952.

Last year the Duchess of Cambridge exhibited a garden, and in 2015 and 2013 Prince Harry helped create plots to promote his charity Sentebale.


Princess Royal chose hellebores as her top floral pick (Image: -)

In 2002 Prince Charles designed one in memory of Queen Elizabeth.

Prince Charles is patron of the Delphinium Society and the flower features heavily in the grounds of his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire.

He said: “For me, the magnificent, gloriously apparelled delphinium, with its impeccable bearing and massed in platoons, holds pride of place in my botanical affections.”

Visitors to Highgrove can see the tall colourful flowers which can grow to more than 9ft in height.

The Princess Royal picked hellebores as her top floral pick – a hardy plant that can often be poisonous.

Charles is patron of the Delphinium Society

Charles is patron of the Delphinium Society (Image: -)

She said: “Not only do they flower early but they keep flowering for two months, and they are often beautifully marked with endless variations.”

The 69-year-old got behind the camera to capture the plant which has cup-shaped flowers ranging from white and yellow to pink and dark purple.

Lily of the Valley The Queen has a soft spot for the Lily of the Valley and it is one of her favourite flowers at this time of year.

It featured in her Coronation bouquet in June 1953 and has had a special place in her heart ever since.

The Queen has a soft spot for the lily-of-the-valley

The Queen has a soft spot for the lily-of-the-valley (Image: -)

Flowers from the four corners of the British Isles were used to make the posy for the ceremony, including orchids from England and Wales, stephanotis from Scotland and carnations from Northern Ireland. Lily-of-the-valley is seen growing in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

The Duchess of Cornwall selected alchemilla mollis, below, as her favourite bloom – a soft, delicate perennial with furry leaves and floaty yellow flowers also known as Lady’s Mantle.

The 72-year-old, who shares Prince Charles’s love of gardening, said: “This acid green fluffy-flowered plant is one of the best-ever foliage plants for the garden and the vase. A must for every gardener.”

The perennial is native to southern Europe and grown throughout the world.

The Duchess of Cornwall selected alchemilla mollis

The Duchess of Cornwall selected alchemilla mollis (Image: -)

 Earl and Countess of Wessex share a love of azaleas

Earl and Countess of Wessex share a love of azaleas (Image: -)

The Earl and Countess of Wessex share a love of azaleas, above.

Sophie, 55, who took this photograph said they are “so breath-taking at this time of year and have the most intoxicating scent”.

The Duchess of Gloucester, 73, is a fan of sweet peas and makes her own wicker trellis supports to keep them standing tall.

She has been an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers since 1991.