Friday, April 22, 2011

Kate's Royal Bouquet... maybe some Lilies?

In 1934, princess Marina of Greece and Denmark married Prince George Duke of Kent (uncle of Queen Elizabeth) at Westminster Abbey.  Above is a picture from the mandatory balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace following the Abbey wedding.  Princess Marina chose lilies for her bouquet... the bouquet appears to be an arm bouquet arrangement of all Longiflorum or Easter, or St. Joseph's lilies.  I am sure that bouquet was very fragrant. 

I think it would be a wonderful and striking choice for Kate to have these Easter time lilies in her bouquet since her wedding to Prince William will fall less than a week after Easter Sunday.  Churches this weekend will be filled with these bright white blooms with their very distinctive sweet and powerful fragrance.  Often Easter lilies have very large blooms, and the way they grow parallel to the ground would require removing the blooms at the stalk and subjected to very heavy wiring... in order for them to cascade properly in any hand carried arrangement.

With only a week to go before the big day, I can only imagine the controlled chaos that must be happening at a few of En glands floral design studios.  I hear that three florists have been chosen to share the flower duties.  You have to consider the importance of the bouquets that will be seen, some closeup by estimated billions of television viewers.  Also, the Abbey will be decked out with very large floral displays, then there are all the floral decorations required back at the palace for not one but two receptions to be held next Friday, April 29th.

Kate, like all other royal brides will not be tossing away one of her probably three identical bouquets, but rather, will send one back to the Abbey by some of the palace staff to lay on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior that lies just inside the great west doors of the Abbey.

Royal Wedding Tid-bit of the day... when Marina of Greece and Prince George married in 1934, one of the attending bridesmaids was an eight year old Princess Elizabeth of York, who in the matter of 2 and a half years would become the heir presumptive to the throne when her Uncle David a.k.a King Edward VIII would abdicate the throne making Elizabeth's father, Prince Albert of York, the next King... King George VI.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Flowers... More Research Completed.

Well, if I had done the research first I could have lumped it all together in today's earlier post.  But this gives me a great opportunity to visit the blog dashboard more than once during the day.

Here is what I have found out about those fragrant nosegays carried by the Queen and others on Maundy Thursday.  The Maundy tradition of giving alms (money) to the poor had it's start as far back as King Edward I, in the 13th century.  Way back then, the monarch, like Christ before the Last Supper, actually washed the feet of the poor in his kingdom.  However, the tradition of foot washing was halted in the 17th Century during the reign of James II.

As for the nosegays.. they too have a long tradition, as well as served a purpose in the early days of the Maundy services.  The nosegays are always composed of fragrant flowers, freesias and daffodils usually are included in mass numbers.  Fragrant... why you ask, well simply to keep the "smells" of the poor at bay during the foot washing and alms giving.  I don't think the Queen has to worry too much about the odor of the poor these days, but the tradition of carrying the nosegays is a lovely one. 

The official nosegay maker for the Queen, currently is Rosemary Mason.  She received her royal warrant as nosegay maker to the Queen in 2008.  Mrs. Mason also holds the secret receipt for the nosegays, apparently there is quite a bit more to be included each year than the freesia and daffodils.  The nosegay maker only makes the nosegays this one day of the year and makes 12 nosegays, taking about 8 hours. 

Royal Flower Tid-bit Bonus of the day... Worthy servants of the Church of England are the recipients of the Maundy money these days... but the number of recipients is significant.  This morning in London, 85 men and 85 women received the bags of coins from the Queen.  A man and a woman to count for each year of the Queen's life so far, which, as of this morning is, 85.

Photo Credit: This Is Leicetershire, Norcliffe Media Ltd., Maundy Thursday edition, Friday, April 10th, 2009.

Maundy Money, Maundy Flowers April 21, 2011

Happiest of Birthdays to Her Majesty the Queen!  Soon Elizabeth will be setting records for eldest monarch as well as longest reigning... surpassing George III and Victoria, two of her predecessors that reigned just slightly longer than she has to date.

It's a busy month for the the Queen and her family.  First, today is her true birthday (the "official" State occasion is celebrated in June with the Trooping of the Color - June has better weather in England apparently).  Then, next week her favorite grandchild is getting married in the most celebrated wedding since 1981.  Finally, and possibly most importantly, this Sunday is Easter Sunday.  Which means that today the Queen has distributed the traditional Maundy Thursday purses to well deserving British subjects.  This mornings ceremony, which was a tradition carried out as far back as King Henry VIII, took place at Westminster Abbey... possibly a test run for next Friday's wedding.

Of course when the Queen and other royals are about, there are flowers involved.  In the above picture, the Queen, Prince Philip and the Dean of Westminster are seen carrying very sculpted and uniform nosegays.  Very traditional are the doily collars backing the flowers.  The flowers are composed mainly of freesias in purple, yellow and white.  I will be doing some research into these bright and fragrant arrangements and try to find out their significance to Maunday Thursday.

Everyone have a great Easter!

Royal Wedding Tid-bit of the day... Kate Middleton has reportedly paid her respects to William's mother, Princess Diana.  Reportedly, the couple, getting married in 8 days, paid a private visit to Diana's grave on the island located on the Altrop estate... and laid flowers at the grave.

Photo Credit: ABC World News,, April 21, 2011.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kate's Dress and Flowers... a look back at a 1953 wedding.

So much speculation going on now that we are coming up on one week until the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Yes, I do realize after next Friday that we will need to refer to her as "Catherine".  But, protocol or not, we still refer to Sarah Ferguson as "Fergie".

Speculation over the dress Kate will wear has grown to a feverish frenzy of ideas from color (ivory or white) to style (large skirt or more fitted) to the decoration (sequins, pearls, and crystals or simply undecorated silk or taffeta), that from all the media, it's getting confusing to put all the ideas together.  Also too, and thankfully many of the networks have put together many documentaries covering the wedding.  In these t.v. specials, often there are retrospectives where the royal wedding gowns of the past are featured.  Seeing these old pictures and sometimes movie footage has given the royal watching novices a great lesson in royal weddings of the past.

Just this week I have seen a royal wedding documentary that featured movie reels from the royal wedding of 1923 when Prince Albert of York (King George VI) and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother).  It's just a few seconds of movie footage, but you get to see what I believe was her bridal bouquet.  Over the years I have read several accounts of that wedding day... but none of the stories seem to agree on what flowers were included in this royal bouquet.  As the bride left her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior near the west door of the Abbey, the bouquet was not present for the photographs taken back at the palace after the wedding.  However, in this few seconds of film showing Lady Elizabeth leaving her London home and being helped into a carriage for her trip to the Abbey.... you see a woman walking behind her holding her flowing train, and holding a large bouquet of what appears to be white roses and plumosa fern tied with a wide white ribbon.  So, the mystery may have been solved.  Accounts of the bouquet describe it containing white roses, but also some say pink carnations, and some say Heather from the bride's native land of Scotland... all of which I think would have been appropriate.

But back to the dress for Kate.  Most everyone seems to have an idea of what they want Kate's dress to look like.  Above is my favorite for it's regal style and vintage traditional design.  This dress is being worn by Jane McNeil as she weds the Earl of Dalkieth in Edinburgh, Scotland, the year, 1953.
Jane's bouquet, upon closeup examination appears to contain roses, Lily of the Valley, and stephanotis still clustered on their stems.  Of course, in 1953, the construction of the bouquet, I am sure is totally wire and tape.  It's a gorgeous little bouquet that really highlights the floral-in-lace pattern of the gown.  So, as for me, I think this is what Kate should wear next Friday!

Royal Wedding Tid-bit of the day... with all the media/Internet coverage concerning the upcoming royal wedding, it's hard to choose a tid-bit... but, here goes.  Although Kate's brother James isn't officially a part of the royal wedding party, as Prince William will only have Prince Harry as a supporter, James will have some benefit from his sister's "marrying-up".  The Middleton family has been honored with it's own coat of arms.  This newly designed family emblem will be of use to James as well as all his descendants.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Making Diana's Bouquet

The bouquet above is a recent re-creation of Princess Diana's bridal bouquet.  This replica was a made for a German documentary on royal weddings.  My friend Mr. David Longman was interviewed and consulted during the making of the documentary.

While Mr. Longman is responsible for the design of many royal boquets, there is a person, a different person who actually puts the flowers together, actually building the bouquet.  Ther person who acutally created Princess Diana's bouquet was Doris Welham.  Miss Welham worked for Longman's for 36 years before retiring in 1991.

Knowing the skill and patience involved in making a bouquet such as this, I consider Miss Welham a hero in the floral design world.  She's my idol.

This past weekend, I got the rare opportunity to create a bouquet for a bride that was somewhat on the proportions as the above famous royal boquet.   Fully wired and taped, all flowers and no foliage... at the request of the bride... it consisted of nearly 60 stems of white dembdrobium orchids (most removed from the stems and wired individually or in pairs or in threes) and 25 stephanotis blossoms with pearl centers. 

From the picture below, Miss Welham had a handfull of helpers while constructing three almost identical bouquets for Princess Diana.  I however did all of my own wiring and taping, so the bouquet I made this weekend took me nearly 6 hours to make.  But, the result was well worth the labor.  Here is a pic of the bouquet that I made.

Lastly, I have found a picture from the internet on a website dedicated to Princess Diana.  I recommend taking a look/read of this site, as there is much interesting information about Diana there and it's called "Diana Forever"  here is the web address...  and here is the picture of Doris Welham and her staff at Longmans assembling one or three bouquets for the princess.

Royal Wedding Tidbit of the day... Not even a princess is immune to mishaps on their wedding day.  On the morning of Nov. 20, 1947 just a couple of hours before her wedding at Westminster Abbey, Princess Elizabeth's (Queen Elizabeth II) tiara snapped in two!  Hastily the jeweler was sent for to make the last hour repair before she departed the palace.