The Royal Wedding, Starring Peonies


The invitations were literally gilded. Die-stamped in gold, beveled and burnished at the edges, they summoned 600 guests to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Palace at noon, Saturday, May 19 for the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle.

Or, as she was nicknamed as a kid, “Flower.”

Among the royal wedding’s many swoon-worthy details, there are the ones related to its florals and greens. According to Kensington Palace, Harry and Meghan’s wedding will make use of beech, birch and hornbeam branches. The Royal Parks will also contribute pollinator-friendly plants from their wildflower meadows for displays. The cake—lemon and elderflower, from baker Claire Ptak—will be dusted with fresh blossoms. Much of the floral bounty will be culled from the gardens and parkland of The Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park, as well as from the Royal Nursery.

And what will the specific flowers themselves be? White garden roses, foxgloves and—wait for it—peonies.

Hannah Cooper Photographer

Meghan Markle has a well-documented love for spring’s most iconic flower, Instagramming a perfect pink and white bouquet in 2016 that may have been proffered by Harry himself. Indeed, she’s made no secret of her crush on peonies (her hashtag of choice? #favoriteflowers), even documenting the time she bought them for herself (they made her “endlessly happy”) and writing about them on her blog, The Tig.

And we get it. They are absolute stunners, with their folds and folds of petals, delicate as tissue paper. One day they’re enclosed like a bulb, big as your fist. The next, they’ve begun to unfold—seemingly petal by petal—into something truly spectacular.

They’re especially winning in a bridal bouquet.

Kristy Berends Photography

There are over 30 species of the flower, but just three varieties are likely to be put to use by Philippa Craddock, the couple’s high-profile floral designer. While the Queen offered the design services of the palace staff, Harry and Meghan opted for Craddock, a fair-trade artist who definitely knows her way around a peony. In the UK, the flower has a short blooming period, best harvested in May. It’s also a flower long associated with royalty; it was grown at court in Imperial China and referred to as the “Queen of Herbs” by the Ancient Greeks. A definite statement flower, we can’t be sure how Craddock will employ the noble and yet utterly romantic peony, whether some will appear in the bridal bouquet or if they will be woven into the ceremony’s floral decor. The suspense is nearly killing us.

Becca Elizabeth Photography 

One thing is a near guarantee, though. Markle’s bouquet will likely have a sprig of myrtle in it, a tradition carried out since the time of Queen Victoria (she also made white wedding dresses a thing) and born from a myrtle bush on the grounds of her home on the Isle of Wight. She supplied a sprig of it to her daughter’s bouquet in 1858, and from then on, many royal brides have followed suit, tucking a sprig into their bouquets from the original bush. Myrtle, you’ll be relieved to know, symbolizes love and marriage. After each wedding, the royal bouquets are all lovingly placed in the same spot at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, a gesture as unifying among the brides as the myrtle.

We can’t wait to see how peonies receive their moment in the royal sun. And in case you’re worried, there’s always a backup bouquet.

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