A florist from Warrington supplied flowers to Windsor Castle for the funeral of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
Ruth Long, of Honey Bee Florists, was commissioned to produce a wreath fit for a Prince that was first formally presented at the Castle gates before being moved to St George’s Chapel so it could be personally inspected by HM The Queen.
In the days running up to Saturday’s funeral, Buckingham Palace had asked mourners not to travel to Windsor for fear of causing a Coronavirus outbreak in the town. So, instead, a short ceremony and wreath-laying was organised for those unable to attend in person.
Ruth was asked to design the tribute because, unknowingly, she had a connection to Windsor Castle. She had provided the flowers for the funeral of Loretta Walker earlier this year. Mrs Walker was from Lowton, but she was a regular at Royal events and was a member of the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.
Her son, Andre Walker, is also one of the Wardens of Windsor Castle Lodge.
Andre said: “It might seem odd to ask a florist in Warrington to supply flowers for a Royal Funeral in Windsor but that is not the way we saw it. This wreath was on behalf of people unable to attend in person and it had to be perfect despite the limited time.
“This was a very serious occasion and this work had to be done to the highest possible standard. It was clear to us that Ruth could be relied upon to design and produce a truly exceptional tribute.”
Ruth’s design was a 28-inch wreath, in blue and white, a reference to The Duke of Edinburgh’s birth place of Greece. Roses were used in a reference to the traditional English Tudor rose but in white only to maintain the overall colour scheme.
Orchids – which are rare and hard to grow – were placed to represent the rarity of Royalty and the standards of duty he maintained throughout his life. The wreath was finished with the inclusion of thistles to represent The Dukedom of Edinburgh, and a collection of heather to represent the Scottish Highlands.
The presentation ceremony was covered by both UK and international media. The wreath remained at the gates of Windsor Castle for one day, before it was moved to a private part of St George’s Chapel. This was to enable The Queen to view it, and other significant tributes, without breaching the Coronavirus two-meter distance rule.
A proud Ruth said: “Producing a tribute to The Duke of Edinburgh was a huge honour for me, but as a florist I know that at the heart of every funeral is a grieving family. My job is always to help that family express their love for the person who passed, that is as true for The Queen as it is for anyone else.
“Normally I would meet with the family and discuss what they want, but in this case that was not going to be possible for obvious reasons. So instead I picked flowers that I felt represented the life of The Duke of Edinburgh.
“I wasn’t told that the flowers would be personally viewed by the Queen until after it happened. But I cannot tell you how much that means to me. She’s an amazing woman, and I feel proud that I had the chance to make her feel a little bit better on the worst day of her life.”