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“I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree”: The Queen takes command in Cambridge

In case you were wondering if there’s an age limit to planting ceremonial trees, allow Queen Elizabeth to debunk the myth for you: at 93-years-old, she reminded onlookers in Cambridge on Tuesday that she’s “still perfectly capable of planting a tree.”

The Queen was visiting the National Institute of Agricultural Botany during an away-day in Cambridge when she made the instantly-iconic quip.

The Queen and the Duchess of Gloucester, who’d accompanied Her Majesty, were visiting an exhibition for 100 years of crop research at the Institute.

“On the rehearsal, the idea was that she would supervise the planting of a tree,” Dr Tina Barsby, the Chief Executive of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany told the BBC afterwards.

“But she gave her bag to someone to hold and said ‘I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree’ and she put the soil in herself.”

The Queen visited a glasshouse and also learned about other crop research the Institute is performing, including grape research.


A long-time worker, Teresa Stratton, told the Lancashire Telegraph that she’d mentioned how “We’re the only place in the UK that does grape research” to The Queen and that she “was very interested” to learn that.

“She told us they were growing vines at Windsor and although she probably wouldn’t drink the wine, she was quite interested in it.”

Dr Barsby said that she told The Queen “that English wines were becoming more and more popular and better quality, and she said she doesn’t drink wine, but she hears they’re very good.”

The Queen received a poignant gift from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany as well: a bowl carved from part of a mulberry tree planted by her grandmother, Queen Mary, during a visit to the Institute in 1921.

Queen Mary and her husband, King George V, were the first members of the Royal Family to visit the Institute in 1921.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.