01 May 2011
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has sent the bouquet she carried during her wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey back to the Abbey to rest on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
This is tradition which was begun by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, at her marriage to King George VI in memory of her brother Fergus who was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos during the First World War.
The bouquet is a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth. The bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly and draws on the traditions of flowers of significance for the Royal Family, the Middleton family and on the Language of Flowers.
The flowers’ meanings in the bouquet are:
Lily-of-the-valley – Return of happiness
Sweet William – Gallantry
Hyacinth – Constancy of love
Ivy – Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection
Myrtle – the emblem of marriage; love.
The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947.
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany. In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today.
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride.
The Warrior’s Grave stands as a remarkable tribute both to the fallen of the First World War and to all those who have died since in international military conflict.
In 1920, the Reverend David Railton, a First World War army padre, suggested that an unknown soldier from the battlefield should be brought back to Britain for burial as a representative for all who had died. The grave remains a focus for pilgrimage and a powerful symbol, known across the world, of the sacrifice, suffering and bravery brought by war. It is the only grave or memorial in the Abbey which is never walked over.