Why Kate Middleton won’t toss her bouquet
LONDON--The ceremonial fight for the bride's bouquet is a symbolic, entertaining, and occasionally violent staple of most weddings, but there won't be a throng of eager young ladies queuing up to catch Kate Middleton's lavish flower arrangement on April 29.
British royal protocol dictates that instead of being hurled skyward and giving one lucky and sure-handed girl a superstitious shove toward marriage, Kate's bouquet will come to a far more solemn rest.
As she heads back down the aisle at Westminster Abbey, having completed her nuptials to become either Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales or another title of the queen's choosing, she will take a moment to lay her floral creation at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a historic grave embedded into the church floor in 1920 to commemorate anonymous soldiers killed at war.
"It is one of the ways I remember the boys who didn't come home," Michael Selby, a private during World War II who honors the tomb whenever he visits the Abbey, told Yahoo!. "It is a symbol for the men whose bodies lay in a foreign field, a lot of them never identified."
The tomb, carrying the body of an unidentified soldier brought home from the first World War, is a revered site in British military history. It became etched into royal tradition in 1923 thanks to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who would later be known as the queen mother.
Bowes-Lyon, much loved and expertly portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter in the Oscar-winning movie "The King's Speech," set the tradition when she wed her "Bertie," King George VI, by laying a wreath on the tomb in honor of her brother Fergus, who had died during the war. On that occasion the arrangement was laid on the way to the altar. It has since been followed by every royal bride, though subsequently on their way out of the church.
As preparations for William and Kate's wedding got into full flow earlier this year, Kate made it known that she wished to pay a tribute to the military. Such a gesture surely met with the approval of Prince William, who continued family tradition by serving as a search and rescue pilot in the Royal Air Force and is currently stationed at a flight base in Wales.
William's brother, Prince Harry, has also vigorously launched himself into a career of service, flying Apache helicopters and recently being promoted to the rank of captain in the British Army Air Corps.
With the queen closely involved in planning for the wedding ceremony, it was agreed that the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior would be a fitting way to stick with royal practice, while also giving a touching nod to the services.
But what of the flowers that will be laid there? There has been some mystery regarding the creation. The Daily Mail reported that floral expert Shane Connolly would be given the honor of piecing together what will perhaps be the most-viewed bouquet in history.
Whatever form it takes, it is virtually certain that it will contain the royal staple of myrtle, known as the herb of love. Queen Victoria planted a myrtle bush at one of her residences, Osborne House, in the 1840s, and every royal wedding bouquet since has contained a sprig taken from the same plant.
William and Kate are very much a modern couple, but their wedding looks like it will be notable for its deference to history, right down to the concoction, placement, and symbolism of the bouquet.