Queen faces longer wait for one of her favourite events as Chelsea Flower Show postponed

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3 min read

Watch: The Queen visits Kate’s garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

The Queen will have to wait another four months for one of her favourite events of the year after the Chelsea Flower Show was postponed until autumn.

Organisers had hoped to be able to hold the annual event in May, after the 2020 event took place entirely online, but have said they could not know what restrictions would still be in place at that point.

Initial plans by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) included reducing visitor numbers and adding an extra day.

Those plans are now being transferred to September, meaning there will be 140,000 people attending across six days compared with 168,500 over five days in 2019.

Organisers hope September will be a safer time to hold the event, with millions more people vaccinated by then.

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) and Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, around the 'Back to Nature Garden' garden, that she designed along with Andree Davies and Adam White, during their visit to the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London on May 20, 2019. - The Chelsea flower show is held annually in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. (Photo by Geoff Pugh / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GEOFF PUGH/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate showed the Queen and Prince William around the 'Back to Nature Garden' garden in 2019. (Geoff Pugh/AFP)

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The event is a favourite of the Queen and the Royal Family, and members have been attending for decades.

In 2019, the last time the event was held in person, the Queen visited her granddaughter-in-law’s garden, as the Duchess of Cambridge had her own patch at the show, at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

As they could not attend in 2020, the Royal Family shared their favourite flowers on social media.

The Queen said her favourite flower is the lily of the valley, which she had in her coronation bouquet in 1953.

She also shared a message for the opening of the virtual event, confirming her family’s love for it. She said: “My family and I have always enjoyed visiting the Show, and I know that your Members and Supporters will be disappointed that they are unable to attend in person this year.

“I am sure that my grandmother, Queen Mary, who first attended the Chelsea Flower Show in 1916, would be delighted that many people today have an enthusiasm for horticulture, and that gardening remains a popular past time in the United Kingdom.”

The Queen is given a preview of flowers chosen for the wedding of her son, Prince Edward, to Sophie Rhys-Jones. The Queen was shown the lillies in a giant floral display as she attended the Chelsea Flower Show.   (Photo by Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Queen was shown the lillies in a giant floral display as she attended the Chelsea Flower Show in 1999. (Fiona Hanson/PA Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret at the Chelsea Flower Show.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret at the Chelsea Flower Show. (PA Images)

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The Queen first attended the show as the monarch in 1955, and has attended most years since.

She is thought to have missed only two of the shows over the years, both because she was on overseas visits at the time.

Speaking about the delay to September, Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “In these challenging times we have always followed government advice and made difficult, responsible decisions with the health and safety of people our key concern.

“Whilst we are sad to have had to delay RHS Chelsea and are sorry for the disruption this will cause, we are excited that we are still planning to bring the world’s best-loved gardening event to the nation at a time when more people are gardening more than ever.”

The RHS has said it will continue to monitor restrictions and the situation but hopes the Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park shows can go ahead as usual.

Watch: Kate and Meghan check with the Queen about their outfits