Saturday, 13 August 2022

Why Jane loves being royal flower arranger

FOR most people, the chance to arrange flowers for the royal family is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

FOR most people, the chance to arrange flowers for the royal family is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

But it is all part of the job for Jane Rowton-Lee, the Henley woman who was in charge of designing the floral arrangements for the Queen’s coronation anniversary celebration at Westminster Abbey last week.

She is the co-ordinator for the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies and had spent the previous six weeks designing all the flowers for the service to mark Her Majesty’s coronation in June 1953.

Mrs Rowton-Lee, of Ancastle Green, said: “It was just wonderful. They were big arrangements, about 10 feet tall and we chose white and yellow, which are the colours of celebration.

“The abbey always wants traditional arrangements and it is such a beautiful building that you really do need to put traditional work in there.

“I organised seven displays and used two types of lily, eustoma, white delphinium, avalanche roses and Anastasia chrysanthemum.

“It is the most enormous privilege and honour to be able to do it for these events.”

Mrs Rowton-Lee is the abbey’s flower co-ordinator and has designed and made arrangements for other special occasions, including a visit by Pope Benedict XVI and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge two years ago.

She described the royal occasions as the highlights of her career. Mrs Rowton-Lee said: “I organise between 25 and 30 services at the abbey each year and I get a tremendous pride from it.” The widow, who has two sons and four grandchildren, was able to watch last week’s service.

“It was fantastic, just so wonderful,” she said. “There were many members of the royal family present and the Queen looked lovely in her outfit. The music and the singing…. it just went like clockwork. It was such a tremendous occasion and the only time that the coronation crown has been taken out of the Tower of London since the coronation.

“I take enormous pride in seeing my flowers on display and I made the one that went on the right of the high altar.”

Mrs Rowton-Lee is president of the Henley Flower Arrangement Club, which is 56 years old this year. She is also the current president of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire area of the national association.

IF you are one of those people who dislikes the big lorries driving through the centre of Henley then stop reading now.

For you can only admire the skill of the drivers of these heavy goods vehicles loaded with a mobile home each turning from Hart Street into Bell Street.

Peter Hopkins, who took the snaps, says: “It was skilful to get two houses through the medieval street pattern of Henley.

“I just thought it curious how totally unaware some of the pedestrians were of such a leviathan driving over the pavement only inches away from them! The drivers barely paused — they saw a gap in the flow of pedestrians and went sailing through in seconds.

“It was lucky a child didn’t run out of a shop at that moment...”

Quite so, for that would have been more ammunition for those critics.

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