The Queen at the Chelsea Flower Show. Featured image credit: Karen Roe

The Queen’s love of the Chelsea Flower Show

Queen Elizabeth’s love for flowers and garden scenery has not gone unnoticed during her reign and she often appears at the (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show.

The origins of the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show go back to the Society’s first fete at its Chiswick garden in 1827. The first Great Spring Show was held at the Society’s new garden in Kensington in May 1862.

The British Royal Family has paid annual visits to the Chelsea Flower Show since 1913. Queen Mary’s (Queen Elizabeth’s mother) love of flowers and trees meant that she has hardly ever missed a show.

The Queen’s appearance is much more than fulfilling an obligation on her calendar, she is very passionate about plants and the outdoors, and takes obvious delight in the showpiece event.

The Queen went regularly with her father, George VI. Whatever the weather or situation, she has taken walks through the exhibits, shaken hands with designers, asked questions to plant experts and presided over private receptions.

In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, she also became a royal patron of the RHS in June that year. 

Chelsea staged a special Commonwealth exhibit in 1953 to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation year.

In the same year she became Queen, she toured the grounds accompanied by Henry McLaren, 2nd Baron Aberconway and her husband Prince Phillip.

Queen Elizabeth II made her first visit to the Chelsea Flower Show as Queen in 1955. During her reign, she has attended the Chelsea Flower Show more than 50 times and still counting.

In fact, the Queen has only missed a handful of shows since her coronation in 1953.

Her latest absence from the show came in 2021, however, a feature garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and her tree-planting initiative. She made up for this absence in 2022 however, when she visited the event in a luxury buggy.

During her visits, Her Majesty may be accompanied by heads of states or politicians, but more often than not she is usually with members of her family.

In 1977, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated at Chelsea with an exhibit of a carpet-bedded crown, exhibited by the Royal Parks in the Chelsea marquee.

In 2002, she was pictured with her son Prince Charles who designed a garden at the Show with Jinny Blom which reflected the Prince’s interests in alternative medicine, gardening and conservation of the countryside.

When the world was going through the depths of a financial crisis in 2009, The Queen still attended even though the show had fewer exhibitions than usual and she The Queen presented Prince Charles with the Victoria Medal of Honour.

At the 2012 Show, The Queen was presented with a brooch from the Royal Horticultural Society to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.

Her presence at the show feels inevitable and she showed up in 2018 despite the show opening just two days after her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

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