Queen’s dark joke at Chelsea Flower Show: ‘Perhaps they want me dead!’

Queen joins Kate Middleton at the Chelsea Flower Show

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The monarch is set to miss this year’s Chelsea Flower Show for the first time since 2005, after the date was pushed back because of the pandemic. The show was moved from May to September 21, when the Queen is customarily in Balmoral. This year the Royal Family will instead be represented by Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as well as Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra. 

Since the Queen’s coronation in 1953, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) claim the monarch has missed just 10 Chelsea Flower Shows, most recently in 2005 when she was on visit to Canada.

The Queen became patron of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1952, and according to the RHS she attracts crowds of up to 157,000 every year.

The attention on Her Majesty at this annual event allows her to show off her personality on occasion.

In 2016 the Queen revealed her wicked sense of humour during her traditional Chelsea Flower Show visit. 

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In a conversation with herb gardener Jekka McVicar, the monarch was informed that Lily of the Valley was once used as a poison.

Recounting the conversation Ms McVicar revealed: “She said, ‘I’ve been given two bunches this week,

“‘Perhaps they want me dead’”.

The monarch also met veteran rose breeder David Austin, who in 2016 was 90, the same age as the Queen. 

Mr Austin, who was born two months before the monarch in February 1926 showed off his white rose, which he called Roald Dahl, before revealing his age. 

The Queen sharply quipped: “1926 was a very good vintage.”

That year the Queen, who attended alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, impressed gardening experts with her impressive horticulture knowledge.

Secretary of the Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group, Sally Hayward showed the Queen a Yakushimanum rhododendron, a plant species uniquely native to Japan, yet the Queen already knew what it was. 

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Ms Hayward said: “I’ve been told that she likes her rhododendrons.

“I was amazed ‒ she loves it because of the pink buds.”

Though the Queen is likely not to attend the event, she claimed last year it was an one she “always enjoyed” in a special message sent for the opening of the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show 2020. 

Despite her absence, the largest plot at this year’s show will be dedicated to the monarch’s tree planting initiative which was established to honour the Queen’s forthcoming Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

The Queen’s Green Canopy garden is designed to encourage individuals to help protect the environment by planting trees. 

The initiative will also pay homage to the Queen’s historic 70-year reign. 

The plot will feature a woodland made up of 21 trees, including Hornbeam Beech and multi-stemmed Swedish Birch, that will be among grassland and a wildflower meadow. 

A sculpture featuring a trio of hay bales has been designed on the green to represent the importance of biodiversity and demonstrate how land can be used efficiently.

Designer David Dodd said: “I have built many gardens at RHS Chelsea but this is the first one I have designed and I am so passionate about the message of the garden.

“I really hope it encourages everyone across the country to get involved in tree planting. 

“Whether it be a small single tree in someone’s garden, or getting involved in community projects to plant new woodland or forests, we can all do our part in creating better habits for wildlife and helping fight climate change.”

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