Queen Camilla puts on a cheerful display at Winter Flowers Week

Queen Camilla listens to Tolstoy’s famous quote about unhappy families as she visits winter flowers exhibition amid royals’ turmoil over Omid Scobie book

  • Her Majesty enjoyed the museum’s offerings in Lambeth, central London 
  • READ MORE: Queen Camilla puts on a cheerful display at the opening of Winter Flowers Week – despite the museum director’s speech on Leo Tolstoy’s famous quote about happy and unhappy families amid royal race row

Queen Camilla celebrated seasonal flowers and foliage by opening Winter Flowers Week at the Garden Museum in Lambeth, central London, today.

Her Majesty, 75, put on a cheerful display as she opened the exhibition and appeared delighted while enjoying the scent of a striking yellow bunch of flowers.

During the visit, the Queen was presented with ‘an empowerment doll’ and other examples of the arts and crafts developed by enslaved African women on the island of Antigua. 

Camilla also learned about the work of Frank Walter, the late artist and environmentalist who was the first black man in Antigua to become manager of a sugar plantation, as she visited an exhibition about his life at the museum in south London.

The royal also heard author Leo Tolstoy’s famous quote about happy and unhappy families just days after senior royals were pictured together following the publication of a controversial book about the monarchy.

Queen Camilla cut an elegant figure as she opened Winters Flower Week in Lambeth, central London, today

Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum, quoted the Russian writer during a speech as he hosted Camilla’s visit to his institution’s Winter Flowers Week, an exhibition of five installations celebrating seasonal and sustainable festive decorations. 

In his speech, Mr Woodward said about the exhibitions: ‘And the idea is that you often see work by floral designers at a wedding or at a party, this is the chance for the designers to pause and for five days have an audience to follow through the concepts and inspirations which make this beauty.

‘And winter has been an enticement to foliage and to structure and – just look.

‘Tolstoy began Anna Karenina ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’.’

He went on to say: ‘And as you become older, I think you notice all the world’s little ‘rightnesses’ and study how many twists and troubles and turns lead to happiness, and how it has as many, more perhaps, colours and aspects as the more often studied tragedies.’

Speaking after the royal visit, Mr Woodward stressed the Tolstoy quotation was not a reference to the recent news stories about the royal family but about drawing attention to the museum’s ability to be an oasis to keen gardeners and members of the public.

He said contemporary art rightly draws attention to the ‘fissures and challenges’ but there was also art that highlighted the ‘happiness and wholeness’ of life.

He said about the Garden Museum: ‘We want to make a space where people come here for a couple of hours and feel ready to go back into the city.’ 

Her Majesty put on a cheerful display at the event, and was even offered her very own handmade flower crown from a child 

Camilla met Max Woodward (pictured), aged three, who sweetly offered the Queen his toy dinosaur 

The 75-year-old looked delighted at Max’s offering, and held on to the toy while the pair smiled for a picture 

Camilla donned a bottle-green ensemble for the occasion, paired with a high neck collared white blouse

Among the items on display at the exhibition were some small paintings of yoke shackles – a reference to the history of slavery on the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda where King Charles remains head of state.

Walter was a supporter of the British monarchy, and among the many other items was a photograph of her husband, the King, as a young man, which the artist kept on his sideboard at his home in the Caribbean.

‘I recognise the face,’ joked the Queen, as she toured the exhibition.

She also praised the skill of the Antiguan artisans who are reviving the dying art of ‘seed work’ in which tamarind seeds are boiled then strung together by hand with waxed string to form elaborate pieces of jewellery and textiles.

‘What talent there is,’ said the Queen, after speaking with Louise Edwards, 72, a master artisan who until recently, was one of the last few women practising seed work. With the support of Botanique, an Antiguan heritage company, she is now running workshops to teach the skill to a new generation of makers.

Camilla appeared delighted while enjoying the scent of a yellow bunch of flowers at the exhibition

The Queen was presented with examples of arts and crafts, which led her to say ‘what talent there is’

One lady appeared particularly pleased to offer Camilla a brown art piece with black beaded features 

Camilla observed the interactive aspects of the exhibition, which showcased different scenes from nature

Mosia (corr) Challenger, 39, gave the Queen a fabric ’empowerment doll’ which she said was inspired by skills enslaved African women brought to the Caribbean.

‘It tells the story of how we are using the tools around us, to develop our nation and empower our women,’ said Anne Jonas, founder of Botanique.

The Queen met the women during a visit to the inaugural ‘Winter Flowers Week’, which is open to the public at the deconsecrated church of St Mary-at-Lambeth where the museum is based.

In his welcome speech, Christopher Woodward, the museum director quoted Tolstoy’s famous first line of Anna Karenina: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’

He went on to say: ‘And as you become older, I think you notice all the world’s little ‘rightnesses’ and study how many twists and troubles and turns lead to happiness, and how it has as many, more perhaps, colours and aspects as the more often studied tragedies.’

Camilla was greeted by designer Carly Rogers (pictured right) at her display titled ‘Deconstructed Landscape’

Three-year-old Max Woodward smiled for a photograph with Camilla while handing her a toy dinosaur

It was a reference not to the current woes within the House of Windsor following the departure of a certain Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the publication of Omid Scobie’s latest book about their private lives.

Rather, Mr Woodward explained later, it was intended as a declaration that flowers and gardening provide the same joy to everyone.

‘We all need a balcony to go out in, sometimes,’ he said. ‘Half an hour with flowers can change the feeling of a day. Flowers make people happy.’

The imaginative floral installations on display, he said, were an example of art that highlights ‘the happiness and wholeness of life’.

The Queen, who is as passionate about gardening as her husband, revealed during another official earlier this year that she will happily busy herself in the garden ‘until everything creaks and groans.’

Camilla enjoyed a photo opportunity at the museum’s exhibition, which showcased stunning scenes from nature

Her Majesty appeared thrilled to smell the scent of a bouquet of striking yellow winter flowers 

It is the first time the museum has staged a winter celebration of seasonal flowers and foliage.

The Queen met the five designers who had created the floral installations, using only British-grown seasonal flowers and foliage. They included Carly Rogers who created a dramatic mound of moss and foliage which the Queen remarked, appeared to be pouring down ‘like lava.’

Tattie Isles [corr] created a winter woodland display around a hand-painted sleigh, with the help of her two young sons, Alfie, six and Wilf, five.

‘Where has Santa gone?’ asked the Queen.

She was also reunited with Shane Connolly, the sustainable floristry advocate who provided the flowers for her 2005 wedding and the Coronation displays in Westminster Abbey.

Camilla kneeled down to join children as they completed arts and craft activities at the museum 

Camilla was given a tour around an exhibit at the opening of Winter Flowers Week, a celebration of seasonal flowers and foliage

At one point, Mr Woodward’s son, Max, three, offered the Queen his toy dinosaur. At another, a child from a local nursery group gave her a paper crown. She resisted the urge to put it on.

The Queen also met representatives from Arts Council England which provided funding for the display, and from ‘Flowers from the Farm, a not-for-profit organisation that represents around 1000 independent flower farmers across the country.

She left with a potted ‘Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ which is noted for its fragrance and which she promised she would plant ‘this weekend.’

The aim of Winter Flowers Week said Alan Titchmarsh, the broadcaster and president of the Garden Museum, is to show that it is possible to create a beautiful and environmentally-friendly Christmas display – without a bit of plastic or tinsel in sight. ‘[There’s] not a bauble!’ he said.

Before leaving, Camilla also met museum trustees and supporters along with volunteers from Floral Angels – a charity that recycles donated flowers from events and arranges them for use in hospices, women’s refuges, and care homes throughout London.

Source: Read Full Article