Queen celebrates first 'virtual' Chelsea Flower Show with throwback family photos

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Queen Elizabeth II is shwon around 'Back to Nature' by Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 press day at Chelsea Flower Show on May 20, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II is shown around 'Back to Nature' by Prince William and Kate in 2019. (Getty Images)

The Queen has shared throwback photos of the Chelsea Flower Show, as the event moves online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her Majesty is a patron of the Royal Horticultural Society, which runs the gardening show each year, and her and her family have been regular attendees over the years.

This year the show has been forced to move online to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among crowds of people.

Ahead of its first virtual event, the Queen shared a trio of black and white pictures of her enjoying the show during the 1950s, not long after she acceded to the throne.

In a message, the 94-year-old said: “On the occasion of the Opening of the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show 2020, I send my best wishes to all those associated with the Royal Horticultural Society.

“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.

“As Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society, I was pleased to hear that you will be providing gardening advice and virtual sessions on your website, from Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd May.

“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.

“As you adapt to the present circumstances, I hope you find this unique event enjoyable and interesting.”

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King George V and Queen Mary at the Chelsea Flower Show, London, 1930s. Illustration from George V and Edward VIII, A Royal Souvenir, by FGH Salusbury, a souvenir book published as Edward VIII was crowned following the death of his father, George V, (Daily Express Publication, London, 1936). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
King George V and Queen Mary at the Chelsea Flower Show, in the 1930s. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (far right) admiring the rock garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, London, 20th May 1952. The garden was designed by Winkfield Manor Nurseries of Ascot. (Photo by George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (far right) admiring the rock garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, in 1952 - before her father's death. (Getty 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. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II on a tour of the Chelsea Flower Show, London, 22nd May 1973. (Photo by John Downing/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II on a tour of the Chelsea Flower Show in 1973. (Getty Images)

Responding to the message, the Royal Horticultural Society posted on Twitter: “Her Majesty The Queen would be with us at #RHSChelsea today.

“We are honoured that we have Her Majesty’s best wishes for the RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show.”

Last year her granddaughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, designed a ‘Back to Nature’ garden, which she hoped would encourage children to play outside.

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

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Chelsea Flower Show, 21st May 1988. Queen Elizabeth II visits the garden show held in the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. (Photo by Ken Lennox/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
The Queen plants a tree at the show in 1988. (Getty Images)
HM Queen Elizabeth II chats with Alan Titmarsh when she visits the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London on May 21, 2007. (Photo by Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/FilmMagic)
The Queen with gardener Alan Titchmarsh in 2007. (FilmMagic)
LONDON - MAY 18:  Queen Elizabeth II presents Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on May 18, 2009 in London. The Victoria Medal of Honour is the highest accolade that the Royal Horticultural Society can bestow. (Photo by Sang Tan/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II presents Prince Charles with the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour in 2009. (Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visits the Chelsea Flower Show in London, on May 21, 2012.  AFP PHOTO / POOL / Lefteris Pitarakis        (Photo credit should read LEFTERIS PITARAKIS/AFP/GettyImages)
The Queen takes a tour in her Diamond Jubilee year, in 2012. (GettyImages)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) reacts as she greets British chef and television presenter Mary Berry (R) as she visits the BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show in London on May 22, 2017. The Chelsea flower show, held annually in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, opens to the public this year from May 22. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JULIAN SIMMONDS        (Photo credit should read JULIAN SIMMONDS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen meets baking queen Mary Berry at the 2017 show. (Getty Images)

Her son Prince Charles also regularly visits the show, and his former wife Princess Diana frequently attended.

The late Princess Margaret visited some of the shows with her sister, and the pair attended with their parents, King George V and Queen Elizabeth as young women.

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

Former shows director, Stephen Bennett previously told The Telegraph Her Majesty is “incredibly knowledgeable” perhaps inheriting a love of gardening from her mother.

Speaking about the royals, Bennett said: “The Princess of Wales was a huge media attraction, of course.

“Didn’t know much about gardening - she was there to support a charity of which she was patron - but she laughed when I raised an eyebrow at her high heels.

“At that point, she was sinking into the lawn.”

Diana, Princess of Wales  (1961 - 1997) at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, May 1984.   (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana at the show in 1984. (Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend Chelsea Flower Show press day at Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 23, 2016 in London, England. The prestigious gardening show features hundreds of stands and exhibition gardens.  (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
William and Kate visiting in 2016. (Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans (L) watches as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, samples a tomato at the 'BBC Radio 2: Chris Evans Taste Garden' during her visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show press day at Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 22, 2017 in London, England. The prestigious Chelsea Flower Show, held annually since 1913 in the Royal Hospital Chelsea grounds, is open to the public from the 23rd to the 27th of May, 2017.  (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
Chris Evans with Kate at his Radio 2 garden in 2017. (Getty Images)

He also said even Prince Harry had been bitten by the Chelsea bug. His charity Sentabale has previously had gardens on display at the show.

In 2019, a new chrysanthemum named Archie Harrison was displayed at the show in honour of his son.

The Royal Family has had a connection to the show since its first event was opened by Queen Alexandra, the monarch’s great grandmother, in 1913, and more than 100 years later, the relationship is going strong.