Queen Elizabeth II: Edinburgh florist describes the honor of providing St Giles’ flower arrangement and being invited to the Queen’s funeral

Hours after the Queen’s death was announced on Thursday, Thomas Maxwell received a phone call asking him to make a flower arrangement for Monday’s thanksgiving service at the Old Cathedral on the Royal Mile.

Mr Maxwell, who was honored by the Queen earlier in the year with an MBE for his services to floristry and charity, said his profession had taken him all over the UK and enabled him to meet several famous faces, including Her Majesty on three occasions.

After hearing the news of the Queen’s death, the florist said he felt “an immense sense of sadness” but also a sense of “gratitude for her life and the way she led her life”.

Edinburgh florist Thomas Maxwell said he felt very honored to have been asked to decorate the flower arrangement at St Giles Cathedral.

He added: “The Queen has been a constant throughout my life, she has always been there.”

When asked last week if he would be arranging flowers for St. Giles Cathedral, he understandably felt “very honoured”.

Mr Maxwell explained: ‘I had to think about what I could order that would be appropriate and I need to have flowers that are open and look good for the occasion.

“Sometimes I buy things that will take five or six days to open – of course I didn’t have that option, I just had to have flowers opened and I’ve been very lucky to have beautiful white lilies in stock anyway and they formed the basis of the arrangement.

“The flowers were green and white because attached to St Giles is Thistle Chapel, and the Knights of the Thistle have robes of dark green velvet with white feathers.”

“It brought back that sense of occasion that the Queen brought to everything. When I was there, the Archers and Heralds and all the religious representatives were there rehearsing. The choir sang during the rehearsal and it was really beautiful. The choir sounded beautifully.

Mr Maxwell said the process of locating the flowers in the cathedral was a “great collaborative effort” between himself, the BBC and staff at St Giles.

He recalled: ‘The BBC must of course be involved as they cannot see their sight lines obscured, so the flowers had to be placed in places where they looked beautiful, respectful and appropriate for the big occasion to so that the cameras can overtake them. .”

Thomas said he received another unexpected phone call on Saturday morning as he walked to St. Giles Cathedral to arrange flowers.

When he noticed the incoming call was a private number, he assumed it was the police calling to verify his permission to enter the cathedral.

“But in fact it was the Cabinet Office that said I had been invited to the state funeral at Westminster Abbey,” he explained. “I never thought I would be invited to Westminster Abbey.

“I worked in London and used to go to Westminster Abbey and do flowers there, so for me it’s particularly emotional to be asked to go to the funeral of State of the Queen in this marvelous glorious space.”

The 76-year-old, who opened Flowers by Maxwell in 1970 on Castle Street before moving to Montrose Terrace in 2012, began his career as a florist in the 1960s in London.

At the age of 18, he trained under the tutelage of the eminent British educator, author and florist, Constance Spry – the lady not only responsible for arranging the Queen’s coronation flowers in 1953, but who also helped deign the coronation chicken recipe.

Since then Mr Maxwell has produced ceremonial flower displays for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, numerous flower arrangements for the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood and has designed flower displays on occasions when the Queen visited the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Museum of Scotland.

As well as meeting the Queen twice in Scotland, he was invited to meet Her Majesty at the centenary of St Columbus’ Church of Scotland in London in 1984.

Although he had “a very fleeting conversation” with the Queen, Mr Maxwell said his meeting with the country’s longest-serving monarch left a lasting impression.

“I think what impressed me the most about the Queen was the fact that she had this incredible, wonderful, warm and generous smile.”

Recalling the character of the Queen, he recalled a 1996 phone call with a member of staff at Buckingham Palace following the tragic shooting at Dunblane Primary School.

Mr Maxwell said: ‘When we had this terrible, terrible disaster at Dunblane I got a call from Buckingham Palace asking if I would make a white flower cluster for the Queen to lay down in memory of the children .

“But shortly after that her lady-in-waiting called back and said ‘the Queen has discussed this with me and thinks it would be more appropriate to have bright pastel colors because it’s for children’.

“Wasn’t it wonderful that she was so caring?”

“She wasn’t just going to pick up a bouquet of flowers and put them down – it was a bouquet of flowers that she had particularly thought of.

“She wanted to do what was most appropriate for the occasion.

“I think she was a remarkable person because of her sensitivity to every situation and she had this great gift of always knowing what to do.”

Read more

Read more

Death of Queen Elizabeth II: Minister of St Giles Cathedral says Queen’s Edinburgh t…

Comments are closed.