What happens to sea of flowers left for Queen Elizabeth?

Royal palaces and parks across the UK have been submerged in floral tributes since the long-serving monarch died

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In the days following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, royal palaces and parks across the UK were a sea of floral tributes.

Sunflowers were the clear favourite — a reflection of the late monarch's sunny disposition.

Besides providing a boost to the balance sheets of the nation's florists, now the queen's funeral has taken place and the official mourning period has elapsed, left behind is a floral multitude which some commentators have called wasteful.

Here, The National explains what will happen to the flowers, as well as the non-floral tributes left to honour the queen.

How the flower tributes for Queen Elizabeth will be given a new lease of life

Floral tributes to the queen will be composted and given a new lease of life in planting projects throughout the royal parks.

It is expected that work to remove items laid by the public will begin on Monday, a week after the state funeral, and will continue for seven days.

Visitors will still be able to lay tributes but blooms which have already deteriorated will be moved to the Hyde Park nursery.

Once taken away, any remaining packaging, cards and labels will be removed before the plant material is composted in Kensington Gardens.

The compost will then be used on landscaping projects and shrubberies across the royal parks.

Sue Tovey, 57, from North Wales, travelled to the tribute site in Green Park to leave flowers with her husband and her granddaughter.

Commenting on the compost plans, she said: “I think it’s amazing because so many people have brought things down and I love how they’ve gotten rid of all the cellophane and actually just got the bouquets.

“It’s beautiful, really moving isn’t it?”

Belinda Barber, 56, from Huntingdon, left flowers at the Green Park tribute site.

“We’re all gardeners anyway so it’s a lovely touch that this will go and get used in Royal Parks, which is fantastic,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of compost here I would’ve thought.”

Sue Tovey at the floral tribute area in Green Park. PA

Sharon Warner, a 52-year-old property administrator from Enfield, London, travelled to the tribute area in Green Park with her mother.

“Yeah, it’s an amazing feeling, the fact that they think about it in advance of what they’re going to do to benefit all of this, because it will be lovely for it to be reused,” she said.

Her mother, Sue Robinson, 75, from Barnet in London, was equally effusive about the planned composting.

“The planning that’s gone into this is just amazing, so that’s great to hear that.”

What happens to the Paddingtons and non-floral tributes left for the queen?

Following the rip-roaring success of the queen's sketch with Paddington for her platinum jubilee celebrations this summer, many mourners felt compelled to leave a cuddly toy version of the marmalade-loving Peruvian bear as a tribute.

While the gesture was well meaning, it had been discouraged by royal park authorities who were for keen only for compostable tributes to be left.

This sloth of Paddington Bears face months in storage. Getty

The result is a sloth of Paddington bears which will be kept in storage, alongside other non-compostable tributes, until the parks and their partners “agree what we do with them over the next few months with discretion and sensitivity.”

Hopefully they have stocked up on the orange conserve to keep the bears happy in their detention.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 5:22 PM
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