Dispelling the Royal Wedding Myrtle Myth

You know we're all in mad royal wedding mode when we're even talking about sprigs of myrtle and their provenance.

By , Columnist

Time to correct a myth about royal weddings. Yes, British royal brides do carry a sprig of myrtle in their bouquets. No, the myrtle does not come from Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet.

You know we're all in mad royal wedding mode when we're even talking about sprigs of myrtle and their provenance. But let's set this straight now so you can astonish your friends with your royal knowledge when Zara Phillips gets married in July. Might be good for winning some bets.

Here's the real story on the royal wedding myrtle.

Prince Albert's grandmother gave Queen Victoria a posy of myrtle during a visit to Gotha (as in the former royal family surname, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). The Queen had the myrtle planted against a wall at her new home, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where it still grows today. (Photo 2 in gallery)

When Queen Victoria's daughter Victoria (still with me?) married the future Kaiser in 1858, a sprig was cut from the plant for her wedding bouquet. (Photo 2 in gallery)

That was the beginning of the tradition and royal brides through the years followed suit.

For her 1947 wedding, then-Princess Elizabeth chose a bouquet of white cattleya, odontoglossum and cypripedium orchids, and added a sprig of myrtle from Osborne House. That sprig was planted to start a second special myrtle source. (Photo 3 in gallery)

In 1981 Lady Diana Spencer's waterfall bouquet had the Osborne House myrtle and another sentimental flower, yellow 'Mountbatten' roses, in honor of the recently deceased Lord Louis Mountbatten, Prince Charles' great-uncle and "honorary grandfather." The fragrant cascade  echoed Queen Elizabeth's orchids, and added lily of the valley, ivy, gardenias, freesias, veronica and stephanotis. (Photo 4 in gallery)

Thirty years on, Kate Middleton used two sprigs of myrtle in her bridal bouquet -- from the Queen Victoria myrtle and the Queen Elizabeth myrtle. The sprigs are nestled in the bouquet (which may be partly an homage to Princess Diana) of lilies of the valley, ivy, hyacinths, and sweet william. (Photo 5 in gallery)

Kate was sent a piece of the Holy Thorn Tree, from Glastonbury, but that was not announced as part of her bouquet.

A somber royal wedding bouquet tradition was created by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. As she and the Duke of York left Westminster Abbey after their 1923 wedding, Elizabeth placed her bouquet on the grave of the Unknown Warrior, to honor her brother Fergus, killed in World War I.

This tribute has continued, with the bouquets sent to the Abbey the day after each royal wedding. On April 30 the bouquet of HRH Princess William of Wales, Duchess of Cambridge appeared on a pillow at the memorial.

The daisy chain of tradition is a touching part of a wedding day when Kate Middleton married a kingdom as well as a man.

View gallery: Royal Wedding Myths Dispelled

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Charlotte Germane dishes the dirt on gardening in newsletters, radio shows, newspapers, and blogs. Follow her on Twitter to get the latest trowel-full of news. She live-blogged the Royal Wedding for The Morton Report and has series of royalty columns here.

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