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Flowers for love and remembrance on the Coronation invitation

Invitations to the Coronation will have their own place in the history books. The ornately decorated cards are inspired by nature and the flora and fauna of the United Kingdom, all twining round the royal crests of King Charles and Queen Camilla. And each of those blooms has a significance of its own.

The King’s great, great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, was a great fan of the language of flowers. In the 19th century, the meanings attributed to different blooms were used to convey all kinds of emotions without a word needing to be said. And the petals picked for the Coronation invitation of King Charles III speak volumes.

Wildflowers dominate the delicate decorations. Nearly all of them can represent love, a recurring theme throughout the floral decorations on this invitation. But they have other meanings, too.

There are dog roses representing pleasure, the cornflower which is taken to show hope and devotion while the wild pansy also signifies compassion and free thinking.

Bluebells mean constancy and gratitude while primroses denote renewal and optimism. Wild strawberries are also seen, dominating the top of the invitation, with their striking symbolism of ”perfect excellence”.

Other meanings are more straightforward. The invitation also features the rose, daffodil, thistle and shamrock, the four floral symbols of the four countries of the United Kingdom.

The quartet of blooms also form part of the Green Man, taken from ancient folklore, and another sign of rebirth and spring. This Green Man is formed of oak, hawthorn and ivy and has a Tudor rose on either side. His crown features an acorn.

Above him, at the very first part of the invitation that will appear as it emerges from the envelope, is a large ‘C’, the initial of both The King and The Queen. Scrolling inside that letter is a sprig of lily of the valley. This highly scented flower, popular in royal wedding bouquets, is at its best in the first days of May when the Coronation will take place. It also has a very special meaning – the return of love.

But perhaps the most poignant symbol on the invitation is the sprig of rosemary that is included. Rosemary means remembrance – a nod to those loved and now gone.

Each of the wildflowers chosen is shown in triplicate to show that King Charles is the third to rule in Britain under that name. And hiding among them are heraldic beasts including a boar – taken from the coat of arms of Bruce Shand, father of Queen Camilla.

The Coronation invitation, designed by Andrew Jamieson, is a work of art but it is filled with a symbolism that only adds to its history.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.