Every Royal Bride Has Carried a Sprig of This One Flower in Her Bouquet
Like most Southerners, the royal families are sticklers for tradition—and details. Amid excitement and fanfare of every British wedding ceremony, from Queen Victoria in 1840 to Kate Middleton in 2011, there have been more than a few wedding conventions connecting each bride, beyond their royal ties, of course. From perfume and crowns to nail polish and engagement rings, you don’t have to search far to find a common thread of the “something borrowed” in each of these ceremonies. However, we were surprised to learn of another wedding tradition the gracious brides across the pond practice.
To symbolize their love and unity, every royal bride carries a bridal bouquet containing one sprig of a particular flower: myrtle. The evergreen woody shrub is commonly thought of as the flower of love and marriage, so it’s no wonder it holds such a significant meaning in weddings, even for those who are set to marry a Prince. But the sprig of myrtle doesn’t just come from any old bush in Great Britain. No, the flowering ritual was uprooted straight from Queen Victoria’s own 170-year-old garden. According to The Telegraph, the myrtle plant was given to her in the 1800s by the grandmother of her husband, Prince Albert.
Another commonality each bouquet shares is that they’re usually filled with white flowers, and they’re also left in the same spot following the wedding. Started by the late Queen Elizabeth I, each bride has left her flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey ever since. Here’s a look back on a few of the beautiful blossoms shaping royal wedding ceremonies, with the customary sprig of myrtle included.
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The tradition was started by Queen Victoria.
Wedding Bouquet: The Queen
Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947. Her jaunt down the aisle of Westminster Abbey was complete with a bouquet full or orchids and, of course, the sprig of myrtle. The church was also decorated with white lilies, chrysanthemums, carnations, roses, camellia, and ivy, and the reception at Buckingham Palace was beautifully adorned with vases of pink and white carnations atop the tables.
Wedding Bouquet: The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton
Along with the myrtle, Duchess Kate carried a bouquet filled with hyacinths, lily of the valley, and Sweet William as a tribute to her husband.
The theme of their wedding was revealed to be "The Language of Flowers," which is a Victorian custom of giving each bloom a different meaning so that sweet scents and sweet nothings could be coded and exchanged between courting couples. The lily of the valley symbolized a return to happiness, the hyacinths represented constancy, and the ivy reflected fidelity.
Wedding Bouquet: Princess Diana
Princess Diana's cascading bouquet of gardenias, stephanotis, orchids, lily of the valley, roses, freesia, veronica, spider lilies, and ivy reportedly weighed two kilos (ahem, that's a whopping four pounds!). The interior of St. Paul's was also decorated to the max and featured 300 pots of hydrangeas, lilies, and campanulas.
Wedding Bouquet: Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Sophie, like the other royal brides, stuck to royal tradition for her wedding to Prince Edward in 1999. Although her waterful bouquet wasn't nearly as elaborate (or as heavy) as the late Princess Diana, it was filled with plenty of ivory petalsm from roses and calla lilies to lily of the valley and freesia. She later preserved a portion of the bouquet to have framed for her drawing room.
Wedding Bouquet: The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles
For his second wedding, Prince Charles' ceremony at Windsor Castle in 2005 was a bit more understated than when he married the Princess of Wales. Camilla Parker Bowles carried a simple posy bouquet of spring blooms, including lily of the valley and yellow, purple, and cream primroses to complement her Robinson Valentine silk dress and custom-made Philip Treacy fascinator.
Wedding Bouquet: Zara Phillips
Only the best blooms for the Queen's granddaughter, right? Zara Phillips married rugby player Mike Tindall in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2011. Her bouquet was made of white calla lilies, silver senecio, lily of the valley, hydrangeas. She also gave a subtle nod to the Scottish location of her nuptials by filling her bouquet with alpine thistles. The bridesmaids carried smaller versions, accented with blue thistles. The venue, Cannongate Kirk, was laced with stargazer lilies and beech branches, and the outside was decorated with roses, carnations, stocks, hydrangea, eucalyptus, and more alpine thistles.