While it is true that British royal brides have a spring of myrtle in their wedding bouquets, the origin of this is slightly mixed up. There are a few different stories and it’s time we get things straight. Which means the myrtle tradition does NOT come from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet. So where does it really come from?
A bouquet of myrtle was given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha. Queen Victoria planted that myrtle against a wall at her new home. That was the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight where the myrtle is still growing today.
Her daughter, also named Victoria, married the future Kaiser in 1858. Her wedding bouquet had a spring of myrtle which was cut from the growing plant. Queen Victoria’s daughter started the tradition of having a spring of myrtle in a royal wedding bouquet. Royal brides still follow that tradition today.
In 1947, then-Princess Elizabeth had a wedding bouquet of different kinds of orchids (cattleya, odontoglossum and cypripedium). A spring of myrtle from Osborne House was added to that bouquet. After the wedding that same spring was planted and thus started a second royal myrtle source.
Lady Diana Spencer’s cascading wedding bouquet in 1981 was full of sentimental value. It had yellow “Mountbatten” roses in honor of recently deceased Lord Louis Mountbatten. Lord Louis was Prince Charles’ great-uncle and an honorary grandfather. The fragrant bouquet also echoed Queen Elizabeth’s orchids and naturally had a spring of Osborne House myrtle as well. Lily of the valley, gardenias, freesias and ivy completed her bridal bouquet.
Thirty years later Kate Middleton married Prince William and had two springs of myrtle in her wedding bouquet. One from the Queen Victoria myrtle and from the Queen Elizabeth myrtle. It is believed that her bouquet was at least partly homage to Princess Diana – it had lilies of the valley, ivy and hyacinths.
In ancient Greece myrtle plant was sacred to Demeter, goddess of fertility and to Aphrodite, goddess of love. It was a symbol of love and the ancient Romans inherited that tradition. For them myrtle was sacred to Venus, goddess of love, and later myrtle became a Hebrew symbol for marriage. That symbolism remains to this day and myrtle has become an emblem for marriage.
Today myrtle is mostly used as a decoration in wedding ceremonies and of course in royal wedding bouquets. It is not just an emblem of love but also a symbol of chastity – as most of white flowers are. Myrtle is very appropriate for weddings since it symbolizes good fortune as well.
It’s no wonder that myrtle was planted next to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. It is believed that myrtle plant will bring peace and love to your home. Myrtle’s lovely star-shaped bloom and pleasant scent make it perfect for decorating your garden. Not only will it liven up your garden it will represent long life and joyful living.