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Royal wedding bouquet to rest on Warrior’s Grave

Sunday, 20th May 2018

Royal wedding bouquet to rest on Warrior’s Grave

The Duchess of Sussex has sent the bouquet she carried during her wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, to Westminster Abbey to rest on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

This is a 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 was designed by florist Philippa Craddock and comprises sweet pea forget-me-not, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine, astrantia and myrtle.

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.

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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