Royal in bloom: Queen wears delicate tulle hairpiece decorated with flowers for annual Chelsea Flower Show date
21:20 GMT, 21 May 2012
The Queen ensured it was more than just the intricate floral arrangements that dazzled when she appeared at the first day of this year's Chelsea Flower Show.
Attending the show for the 48th time, she departed from her usual style with her choice of headwear – a floral hat to accompany the occasion. She was also given a 40,000 white gold brooch with more than 100 precious jewels in it.
The brooch, in the shape of an iris, contains 60 sapphires to celebrate the Queen's 60 years on the throne, as well as 15 diamonds, 20 amethysts, 30 tourmelines and a large yellow diamond in the centre. It was presented to her by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The Queen was dressed in a lilac crepe coat and a floral dress, completed by a new black tulle decorated with small flowers.
Dazzling: The Queen attended the Chelsea Flower Show in a lilac coat and a hat decorated with tiny flowers as she was presented with the 40,000 brooch
The 86-year-old opted for a similar choice of headwear at last-year's show as a pragmatic guard against the windy conditions.
The tulle was designed by the Queen's dresser Angela Kelly.
It is made of a fine black netting which kept Her Majesty's hair in place while she wandered the grounds today.
The Lilac coat was made by Stewart Parvin, one of the Queen's favourite young designers. She enjoyed a walk around the popular flower show, which she has attended every year since 1971, before it opens to the public tomorrow.
The brooch was created by designer Kristjan Eyjolfsson, 32. 'I was absolutely honoured to be asked to do this. I would have been proud to have such an accomplishment when I'm 60 so this is very special,' she said.
Royal visit: The Queen is given a preview of the flower show, which includes a Diamond Jubilee garden, before it is open to the general public
Fashionable: The Queen wore a lilac coat from Stewart Parvin, one of her favourite designers, and a black tulle for the windy conditions
'As a craftsman and designer, I really pushed myself to make this for her.'
Among the highlights of the Queen's visit was the floral garden made to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
The world-renowned show has created a large, tiered flower bed of summer flowers and foliage, designed by the Parish of St Helier, Jersey, with a large rotating Jersey Accession Issue postal stamp as its centrepiece.
Topiary corgis are also expected to make an appearance at the show.
Spectacle: The Queen delighted in the show's offerings, including the Diamond Jubilee bed of summer flowers
This year will mark the Queen's 48th visit to the show, which she has attended without a break since 1971
CHARLES RECALLS TIME IN CANADIAN SERVICE
The Prince of Wales reminisced about his days as a young naval pilot on exercises in Canada today as he was officially welcomed to the country for his Diamond Jubilee tour.
Charles, then a 26-year-old lieutenant, spent five weeks living in a tent at the military base he returned to today with the Duchess of Cornwall for a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry.
Charles flew sorties and transported troops and equipment as part of the major British military exercise codenamed Grey Goose.
Today the prince described his joy at travelling back to Canada to celebrate the Jubilee.
Speaking today, he got a round of applause when he said: 'I have fond memories of my own military service – as a young naval helicopter pilot – in the 1970s at an exercise area in the middle of nowhere.
'As the father of two serving sons in the armed forces, who seem to have become hereditary helicopter pilots, I am greatly looking forward to talking to members and veterans of her majesty's Canadian armed forces.'
Entrants in the Chelsea Florist of the Year competition have been asked to design and create a floral chandelier to be hung at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee dinner.
Chelsea will also feature an exhibition of photographs of the Queen attending the show over the years.
And the show's organiser, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is putting on a display of royal autographs dating back to 1816, including new contributions from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Deputy show manager Sarah Easter said she thought the unusual plant sculptures would inject a bit of humour into the proceedings, and predicted the Queen would react well.
'The Queen has a lovely temperament, we do get a lot of photos of her with a lovely smile,' she said.
She said it was an honour to have the Queen tour the show every year.
'She's the first person to cast judgment on the show, so we're all waiting for her to arrive and see what she thinks. It's such a privilege.'
The Queen was also given a fencing demonstration by potential Olympic fencers James Honeybone, 21, and Alex O'Connell, 24, who competed in full kit and Team GB masks in the middle of a lush, rhododendron-themed garden.
She stood smiling as the athletes fenced with each other and then talked to them.
O'Connell said: 'She asked whether it got hot and whether it was hard work.
'She spoke about the flower show and said she had heard that fencing was up and coming.
'She also said for the girls it was quite a ladylike sport and made a little fencing gesture with her hand.'
The Queen was applauded by hundreds of well-wishers on her arrival at the show, which she has been attending for more than 60 years.
Chelsea Pensioner, Marjorie Cole, who served with the Women's Royal Army Corps for 14 years takes a stroll
Sir David Attenborough takes a look at a floral sculpture of himself created by three times Chelsea Flower show Gold Medalist Joe Massie
According to RHS, it takes 800 people 33 days to build the show, taking up to three weeks to build a single garden