Often seen at royal engagements across the world is the ceremonial tree planting. The simple act of adding a shovel-full of soil onto the planted sapling, and then having a photo, often wraps-up the day’s events, marking the featured member of the Royal Family’s visit.
But after the royals leave, the crowds disperse and the event is over, the trees leave a lasting legacy of the royals and their time at that particular place. Australia is no exception to this as having hosted many a royal tour.
As The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plant an English Oak at the National Arboretum Canberra, they will surely see some of those planted by William’s relatives in times gone by.
Diana, Princess of Wales planted a Golden Ash in the grounds of Government House in 1985, where William and Kate have stayed, and perhaps they have seen this particular one during their time there.
As you can imagine, Her Majesty The Queen is no stranger to tree planting; there is a Gum tree that she planted at the Australian War Memorial. The tree is no longer there, but a plaque commemorates the event. The Queen also left her mark at Government House with a Silvertop Gum in 1954, a Black Sally Gum on her 2006 tour and a Swamp White Oak in 2011.
Some of the trees are landmarks in their towns. In 1927, The Duke of York, who would become King George VI planted an Oak tree as part of the York Park Oak Plantation, on the corner of State Circle and Kings Avenue in Canberra. Now close to 90 years later, the tree still stands, and shows the longevity of the royals’ touch.
These trees have grown and matured in the years that have passed, giving those who are around afterwards the memory of a royal visit. This rings particularly true for Alicia Fehily and Alan Martin from Yarralumla. The Australian couple are to be married at the Arboretum the afternoon following The Cambridges’s visit and the planting of their tree.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds will be photographed with the tree, and will do the same every year on their anniversary. Bride-to-be Ms Fehily said to the Canberra Times: “It will grow as we do.”
It will truly be a lasting legacy for William and Catherine to leave on their first tour of Australia.