On May 19, Meghan Markle embarks on a new life when she weds Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne.
The latest wedding of the century will bring with it new titles and duties. But one thing will remain the same: Her love of flowers.
Indeed, when Markle was an actress starring on the USA Network series “Suits” last year, she would festoon her Toronto apartment with blooms in vintage vases she’d photograph for her Instagram account. (Peonies are said to be a particular passion.)
So is it any wonder that they will be incorporated into the arrangements that Philippa Craddock is designing for the wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and for St. George’s Hall?
“The floral displays in St. George’s Chapel will be created using locally sourced foliage, much of which will be taken from the gardens and parkland of The Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park,” a statement from Kensington Palace released on Easter Sunday read. “Where possible, Philippa will use flowers and plants that are in season and blooming naturally in May, including branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, as well as white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves.”
In going with the trendsetting Craddock, Markle and Prince Harry are bucking tradition, unlike the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — his brother, Prince William, and wife Catherine — who “followed in Prince Charles’ footsteps by choosing Royal Warrant holder Shane Connolly to fill Westminster Abbey with an avenue of trees,” Vanity Fair wrote. Markle and Prince Harry are also in the vanguard ecologically.
“The Royal Parks,” the Kensington Palace statement added, “will supply some pollinator-friendly plants from their wildflower meadows that will be incorporated into the floral designs. These plants provide a great habitat for bees and help to nurture and sustain entire ecosystems by promoting a healthy and biodiverse environment.”
As Craddock vowed on Instagram: “…the designs will be a true reflection of them as a couple, with sustainability at the forefront.”
The arrangements — which will be donated to charity — will also grace a specially designed tent at Frogmore House at the evening reception for 200. (Some 600 will attend the church service, which will be followed by a luncheon in St. George’s Hall.)
The wedding cake — prepared by California-reared Claire Ptak of the London bakery Violet — will also have a floral theme. The lemon elderflower cake “will incorporate the bright flavors of spring,” Kensington Palace shared. “It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.”
There is one floral aspect in which Markle is unlikely to break with tradition and that involves her bouquet. It must be white so as to accent rather than overwhelm the wedding dress and contain a sprig of myrtle, a symbol of hope and love that dates from the 1840 marriage of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, who gave us many of the traditions of the modern wedding, including the white dress. The bouquet is also likely to contain white garden roses in honor of Prince Harry’s late mother — Diana, Princess of Wales — who is also remembered with the White Garden at Kensington Palace.
The bouquet may also feature lilies of the valley, which would link Markle not only to Princess Diana and the cascading bouquet she carried during her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles but to other members of the royal family — the Duchess of Cambridge; and Prince Harry’s aunt and late great-aunt, the Princesses Anne and Margaret respectively — all of whom featured the delicate, fragrant bell-shaped flowers in their bouquets — as well as Princess Grace of Monaco. (It was Princess Grace who started the lily of the valley tradition, carrying a spray of the flower and a prayer book instead of a bouquet for her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier.)
Markle’s bouquet will also surely be sent to the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey — a tradition begun by Prince Harry’s great-grandmother, the late Queen Mother Elizabeth, who at her 1923 marriage to the future George VI placed her bouquet on the memorial to her brother Fergus, killed in action during World War I.
Royal watchers say that even though she will marry her prince at St. George’s, Markle will still send her bouquet to Westminster, just as her fiancé’s future aunt, Sophie Rhys-Jones, did when she married his uncle, Prince Edward, in 1999.
Whatever Markle’s choices, expect a floral display fit for a princess.
“Meghan has been very hands on with all elements of the wedding, but especially the flowers,” a royal source told Vanity Fair. “She met with the Queen and some of her staff at Windsor back in February to have some early discussions about what could be done at the church and at the receptions in terms of flowers. She seemed to have a pretty clear idea of what she wanted then. It was lots of springtime whites and pastels and very romantic flowers. I would say her vision was very fashionable and fairy tale, if you know what I mean.”