latest music news
'Unpretentious' flowers for couple
Teams of florists have descended upon Westminster Abbey to decorate it in "unpretentious" white, green and cream foliage to reflect the bride's English country style.
Florists worked at the abbey as vans transporting huge containers of green cuttings from the royal estates of Sandringham and Windsor arrived.
With scissors in hand, Shane Connolly, artistic director of flowers at the royal wedding, revealed that the abbey will be awash with neutral shades on the big day.
"The theme is that everything is from the estates, that everything is English, that everything is seasonal, and all along Catherine has asked that it's just all neutral colour-wise so it is all creams and whites and greens," he said.
"The aim is the abbey looks unpretentious and simple and natural and that it reflects the fact that Catherine is a country girl at heart and that the couple are the best of British."
The main features in the abbey are eight trees, some as high as 25ft, to be placed amongst the congregation in the naves and in the choir section, Jamie Marlar, Mr Connolly's business partner, said.
He added that there would be "one large arrangement that is over 30ft long".
The bride-to-be has used the language of flowers, a Victorian coding system for conveying secret messages, to create stories within the floral decorations.
"The symbolism behind the trees is beautiful too," Mr Connolly said.
"The trees are field maples, which is a very English native tree and the field maples symbolise reserve and humility. The hornbeams represent a resilience in the language of flowers so we hope that the couple's life is full of resilience and full of strong love."
It is planned that the trees, sourced from Tendercare Nursery in Middlesex, will be taken to Highgrove after the wedding to continue growing.
Miss Middleton is said to have taken a green approach to the floral arrangements with everything sourced from Britain and the aim to be as sustainable as possible.
Mr Connolly said she had been "hands on" and had paid great attention to detail.
"She has had a huge input, she's been involved in every single decision and has enjoyed it all immensely, as have I."
With just days to go before the big day, Mr Connolly said it was "quite pressurised" to get the job done in time.
"We've been planning for months so it's really exciting to have it all in one place and we're all ready to go," he said.
The flowers cascading into the abbey include euphorbia, a green shrub with yellow blossoms, white lilacs and magnolias.
Lily of the valley is said to be a prominent feature in the designs and has been sourced from royal estates and from private suppliers to ensure a balance of blossoms and leaves.
Branches of birch, beech and sorbus trees will be carefully placed in the abbey, adding to the seasonal design.
Among the team of florists are six members of the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) who were asked to help with the preparations.
Pat Martin, president of NAFAS, said security had been vigorous, with sniffer dogs checking all that was going in and out of the abbey.
"Security is quite tight and the police have got to check our things to try and make sure everything runs smoothly," she said.
Ms Martin, 66, said the team "couldn't wait to get started" but felt a little nervous about the responsibility.
"We're nervous because you don't want to do anything wrong, you don't want to cut something too short. It's going to be a very natural look, a very English countryside look," she added.
Ms Martin, from Middlesbrough, said the bouquet "would be a well-guarded secret", and would not say if the bridal blossoms would contain the traditional sprig of myrtle that has appeared at past royal weddings, including Princess Diana's.
NAFAS members are well attuned to the demands of such a grand occasion as florists from the association designed the flowers for Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York.
Ms Martin said Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding was "a different slant on things because every bride brings her own particular passions" to the scheme.
The teams of florists will continue working at the abbey for two days, ensuring that the all-important blossoms are kept fresh in water.