Monday, August 24, 2009

Royal Florals

Royal Wedding Flowers.

I recently came across a beautiful coffee-table book by Elizabeth and David Emanuel: A Dress for Diana. While I've admired Princess Diana from the start, and was fascinated with her fairy tale wedding, I never gave much thought to her wedding bouquet! This book opened my eyes to the myriad of details that went into just this one show-stopping bouquet.

David and Elizabeth were then-unknown designers who were chosen by Lady Diana Spencer to design her wedding dress, for her 1981 wedding to HRH The Prince of Wales, the heir to the British throne. No doubt the 19 year old Diana was unaware of the hundreds of hours of planning and labor that went into designing her dress, shoes and flowers. Everything was done under the utmost of secrecy.

With an elaborate silk dress and a train fully 25 feet long to complement, this bouquet had to be able to hold it's own-and it would be seen by millions all over the world. (No pressure on that florist, I'm sure!). The renowned florist Longman's was selected for the project, and they were no strangers to designing for royal weddings, having done the flowers for Princess Elizabeth's and Ann's weddings, for a start.

The first mock-up was done in silk, and was in a 'shower' design, unusual at the time, and it certainly was responsible for the trend of cascading bouquets for some time thereafter. Once the design was decided, three bouquets were made: one for the practice the night before the wedding, which was then displayed in Longman's window. The second was made early the next morning, for the big event. And the third was taken to Buckingham Palace for the formal photos. All were escorted by police motorcycles on closed roads.

It's dimensions were large: 42" long and 15" wide, a far cry from today's 'clutch' style bouquets. The palace had requested that the gorgeous yellow Mountbatten rose be included, to honor Prince Charles' uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who had been killed. This color is what inspired the flowergirls' dresses.

Along with the yellow rose, this beautifully fragrant bouquet was otherwise all white and cream, and composed of Gardenia, Stephanotis, Lily of the Valley, Odontoglossum orchids, Freesia, Veronica, and Myrtle. The last two from bushes started with cuttings from Queen Victoria's bouquet; the rest were sourced from all over England. The Gardenias were provided on bushes to assure freshness. Because it was so heavy, (estimates vary between 4 and 6 pounds) it was important that the bouquet be properly weighted, requiring a very skilled florist indeed!

1 comment:

Terry Simmons said...

Debra, thank you for the information on Diana's bouquet. It's so hard to find this kind of information about the royal wedding flowers. Please visit my blog at I have a special David Longman connection. Hope to share it with you soon. Best Regards,