While we may question the display of wealth, and mourn the history and stories behind the jewels in her crown, there is a poetic beauty to the symbolism of the wreath adorning Queen Elizabeth II's final resting place. The royals do one thing very well for sure - symbolism.
Escaping coverage of the Queen of England's funeral seemed a futile effort yesterday. We watched the television broadcast and our 5 year old noted how pretty the imperfect wreath was. He asked why she needed the flowers.
The bouquet, imperfect in arrangement, so unlike what one would expect to be centrally displayed during such pomp and circumstance was definitely in juxtaposition.
Jack's questions about the wreath started me thinking we I researched the blooms and ferns a little further.
The featured flowers were actually picked from the royal gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, and Highgrove House.
King Charles IIl requested that the wreath contain Rosemary, English Oak and Myrtle.
What is the significance of each?
Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance (it goes back to funerals during medieval times). Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance and death. Since ancient Roman times the herb was used in burial rites and has been traditionally tossed on top of coffins.
The English oak was used to symbolise love and strength. Throughout history, the Oak tree has featured in different mythologies and is often linked to powerful gods (in Greek mythology it was a symbol of Zeus, the God of Thunder.)
Myrtle is the ancient symbol of a happy marriage (and used during burial ceremonies in ancient Egypt). In Greek mythology, myrtle was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite – associated with love, beauty and pleasure. Myrtle trees were planted in Aphrodite's temple gardens and she was commonly depicted with a myrtle crown or wreath.
Interestingly, the myrtle featured in the queens funeral flower arrangement was cut from a plant that was grown from a sprig of myrtle in her Late Majesty’s wedding bouquet in 1947.
Also included in the arrangement were scented pelargoniums, roses, hydrangea, sedum, dahlias, and scabious in shades of gold, pink and deep burgundy. There were touches of white to reflect the Royal Standard. The wreath was made with sustainable materials which we love! (Let's not talk about all the plastic wrapping around the bouquets littered around London after the ceremony.)
Historically, essential oils from plant life also play a big part in funeral ceremonies - oils such as Cedar Oil, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Rose and Peppermint were and still are used during these ceremonies.
We may see more symbolism incorporating plants and their parts during Charles' coronation. Likely, the King will be anointed just as his mother was using natural aromatic oils. During the Queen's coronation she insisted on using an oil made from a secret mixture of sesame and olive oil containing ambergris, civet, orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, musk, and benzoin.
We may have varied opinions on the Royals, Monarchy, and individuals therewith-in; however, one can't help but marvel at the secret language of plants, and the way with which we humans include them in all momentous occasions in life and death.