SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please considering donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

FeaturesInsightThe Sussexes

Royal Wedding Flowers: Meghan’s love of peonies

So now we know. After months of speculation and as many expected, Meghan Markle will incorporate her favourite flower into her bridal decorations. Kensington Palace has been sharing details of the floral arrangements being created for St. George’s Chapel and St. George’s Hall for the royal wedding on May 19th. And there will be a starring role amongst all those petals for the peony.

Meghan has made no secret of her love for the flower which has three main varieties – . She wrote about the peony a lot on her lifestyle blog, The Tig, while her Instagram page was no stranger to a snap or three of its particularly pretty petals. In one social media post, Meghan said the peony made her ”endlessly happy” so florist, Philippa Craddock, who will be designing the arrangements for the church service and the reception afterwards probably wasn’t that surprised when her latest, and most famous, clients said they wanted peonies included.

And they’ve got impeccable timing for peonies don’t bloom for long in the UK and May is the best time to pick them. There are three types of the flower grown here – herbaceous, tree and intersectional – and in recent years, all have undergone a bit of a revival with the peony ending up the best selling summer flower in Britain in 2016.

We haven’t seen too many royal brides include them in their flowers in recent times but the peony has plenty of regal pedigree. In China it’s been called the ‘’King of Flowers’’ and for a while it was the country’s national bloom. It’s been cultivated there for thousands of years  and became a favourite at imperial courts. The herbaceous peony was well known across Europe by the late Middle Ages while the Tudors had a bit of a thing for it, too. The tree peony was brought here in the 18th century and cultivated extensively at Kew, the botanical hotspot which enjoyed the royal support of George III and his mother, Augusta, Princess of Wales.

Although now seen as an ornamental plant, the peony was originally grown for its medicinal properties. The Ancient Greeks thought so much of its healing powers they called it the ‘’Queen of Herbs’’ with just about every part of the plant used to treat ailments including stomach complaints and labour pains. The word peony is usually said to derive from Greek mythology. Paeon, physician to the gods, angered his teacher, Asclepius, god of medicine, when he discovered the healing power of the peony. To save him, Zeus turned him into one of the plants.

It’s a popular flower with brides as it is now seen as a symbol of a good marriage to come. However, the Victorians weren’t so won over in their language of flowers. They said the peony represented bashfulness, most likely because of the legend that nymphs used to hide in its petals.  Other floral dictionaries state that the flower means good luck which gets us nicely back on track with all things wedding.

Speaking of which, the peony is now used to mark a 12th wedding anniversary while some plants can go on for around 100 years which has surely got to count for something. Besides which every bride wants her wedding to look just how she imagined it. And the latest piece of royal marriage news has confirmed that Meghan Markle is putting her favourite flower at the heart of this very special day.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.