Florist Shane Connolly will be arranging the flowers within Westminster Abbey
Brightly coloured blooms will fill Westminster Abbey on Saturday with the floral designer specifically choosing flowers with special connections to the King and Queen.
Shane Connolly, who created the floral arrangements at Charles and Camilla’s wedding in 2005, aims to make the flowers “incredibly personal” to the couple on their special day.
More than 120 varieties of lowers, including lily of the valley and auriculas, which both featured in Camilla’s wedding bouquet, as well as hellebores which appeared in the King’s buttonhole at his wedding and are a particular favourite of his.
Mr Connolly is leading a team of six people tasked with filling the church with UK-grown blooms and foliage who will install the beautiful designs right up until early on Saturday morning.
The Coronation flowers reflect the King and Queen’s personalities
Over 120 types of flowers will be used
The sweet scents and striking colours of the seasonal flowers, with bright yellows, purples and red taking centre stage, will showcase the best of Britain.
Mr Connolly, who has held a Royal Warrant of Appointment to Queen Elizabeth II and the former Prince of Wales, said: “My overall vision is that the flowers are one of the things that can reflect the real characters of the King and Queen in this whole thing, and so they’re simple garden flowers that are British, seasonal, like they might cut themselves from their own gardens.
“So I felt that that was really important. Maybe this and the music are the two things that really reflect their personality.
“So that was my aim. I also felt that it should come from all four nations, that they should all be represented, including Northern Ireland.”
Mr Connolly created the floral arrangements for Charles and Camilla’s wedding
People can expect to see deep reds, sharp reds, earthy colours and fresh green
Boughs cut from flowering shrubs and trees from the five Royal Horticultural Society gardens will adorn the High Altar, including branches from the pair of Dawyck beech trees planted by the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at RHS Wisley in 1978.
From the Isle of Skye to the coast of Cornwall, and from the mountains of Snowdonia to Tobermore in Northern Ireland, the flowers have been grown by more than 80 members of Flowers from the Farm on farmland, allotments and cutting gardens across the four nations of the UK.
Flowers from the Farm is a not-for-profit membership association championing more than 960 independent, artisan growers of local, seasonal British-cut flowers.
The floral designer, who champions sustainability in the flower industry, said: “That’s actually what flowers are all about. It isn’t about showing off. It’s about a gift. So these flowers then became a gift to the King and Queen on coronation day.”
Coronations have been held at Westminster Abbey for 900 years but before Westminster Abbey was built, Coronations were carried out wherever was convenient.
The first Coronation at Westminster Abbey was for William the Conqueror on December 25, 1066, with the most recent coronation being for Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953.
The Queen’s coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised and was watched by 27 million people in the UK alone.
King Charles will become the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned in May 2023, and will be crowned alongside his Queen Consort, Camilla.
Following the coronation, all the flowers and branches will be donated to a charity to be repurposed
While Charles and Camilla have approved all of the flowers, they did not make specific requests.
But they know that the flowers are “seasonal and beautiful” and will showcase “the best of what’s happening in Britain” this season.
Mr Connolly, who turned 60 this week, was thrilled that the months and weeks leading up to the Coronation were cold – as warm weather could have wreaked havoc on the blooms.
Crab apples, azaleas and rhododendrons may not have flowered if we had a hot spring. “So I’m thrilled that it was cold,” he laughed.
Boughs will adorn the High Altar
Asked if he approached the coronation differently to the two royal weddings, Mr Connolly said: “This isn’t a wedding. And I feel that it had to have a bit of gravitas.
“And so the colours are more serious I think. And we very much were inspired by the Cosmati Pavement and the High Altar itself with its wonderful colours.”
He said people can expect to see deep reds, sharp reds, earthy colours and fresh green – a colour scheme he described as “almost a kind of stained glass window”.
Following the coronation, all the flowers and branches will be donated to Floral Angels, a charity run by volunteers that repurpose blooms from events into bouquets and arrangements to share with care homes, hospices, shelters and other vulnerable members of the community.