Afghanistan veteran with medals and child

Commemorative Rose planted by HRH Princess Alexandra

17 November 2014

Commemorative Rose planted by HRH Princess Alexandra

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, KG, GCVO visited the SSAFA Royal Homes at Queen Alexandra’s Court, Wimbledon, to plant a rose bush using the same spade that had been used by her great grandmother, Queen Alexandra over 100 years ago.

Commemorative Rose planted by HRH Princess Alexandra

Her Royal Highness was invited to plant the 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' commemorative rose on the afternoon of Armistice Day in the rose gardens of the Royal Homes.

The rose replaced a Red Oak tree that had been struck down in last winter’s storms. The fallen tree had been planted in 2005 – again, using the very same spade and in exact same spot – by HRH Princess Alexandra to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Homes.

Her Majesty The Queen Mother had also used the spade to plant a Norwegian Maple tree back in 1973 to celebrate the re-opening of Queen Elizabeth Court, following reconstruction, which still flourishes today.

The spade had first been used by Queen Alexandra on 15th July 1905, to plant a tree on the top lawn, to mark the official opening of The Queen Alexandra Homes.

The Princess took time to meet and chat with everyone who took part in the visit, including a number of residents who had attended her previous visit in 2005. She was thrilled to be invited back to the Royal Homes and to hear from the ladies themselves how happy they were, and how much they appreciated the opportunity to live in such an exceptional residence, and how much they valued their royal patronage.

A keen gardener and rose grower herself, the Princess was delighted to be invited back to the SSAFA Royal Homes to meet the residents and plant the commemorative rose, and remarked that she looked forward to hearing how it is doing in a year or two’s time.

The Princess commented on the long-standing connection between Queen Alexandra Court and the Royal family and noted how remarkable it was to be using the spade that was first used over 100 years ago.

Her Royal Highness was also delighted to see the sterling work that the staff and everyone at SSAFA continue to do to support the Forces family.

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra was joined by The Mayor of Merton, Councillor Agatha Akyigyina, and the Deputy Lieutenant for the London, The Rt Hon Sir John Wheeler, SSAFA Trustee and Chairman of The Royal Homes Friends Committee, Lady Jackson, as she unveiled a plaque to confirm the planting.

Lady Jackson commented: “The staff and residents of the Royal Homes were honoured that Her Royal Highness could be with us on such a significant day, as we remembered the lives lost of those who served in the First World War and in every conflict since.”

“As the only military charity in operation at the start of the First World War and still in existence today, SSAFA continues to provide support to those from the entire military community, and The Royal Homes offers an opportunity for ladies with a Forces connection to live independently. “We look forward to watching this beautiful rose bloom for many years to come.”

After the planting ceremony, The Princess attended a small reception where she was introduced to residents, staff members and members of the Friends Committee, to talk about the activities in the Royal Homes and the work of SSAFA.