The King Presents The New Elizabeth Medal Of Honour At Chelsea Flower Show
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The King Presents The New Elizabeth Medal Of Honour At Chelsea Flower Show

The new prize is awarded in memory of the late Queen Elizabeth II

Members of the Royal family have been spotted countless times at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The first Show since the late Queen’s passing, various touching tributes have sprung up honouring the keen horticulturist, who visited the Show in 2022 despite ongoing mobility issues. In the late Queen’s honour, a new prize was also awarded at the 2023 show earlier this week (23 May): The Elizabeth Medal of Honour, presented by King Charles and Queen Camilla.

The King Presents The New Elizabeth Medal Of Honour At Chelsea Flower Show

King Charles III at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023

King Charles III and Queen Camilla with RHS President Keith Weed (left) at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. (© RHS/Oliver Dixon)

The new Elizabeth Medal of Honour recognises ‘those of any nationality that have significantly impacted the advancement of the science, art or practice of horticulture for the benefit of all generations and the environment’, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Established in 2023 and first awarded at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the Medal is awarded ‘in perpetual remembrance of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s glorious reign’ and ‘in recognition of the duration of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, only 70 medals will be held at any one time’.

‘The Royal Horticultural Society was exceptionally fortunate to have Her Majesty as our patron throughout her reign,’ said RHS President Keith Weed on the new medal. ‘This award celebrates both Her Majesty’s glorious reign and the work she did to raise the profile of UK horticulture both nationally and internationally through her visits to RHS Chelsea Flower Show and wider work.’

King Charles III presents The Elizabeth Medal of Honour at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023

King Charles III presents The Elizabeth Medal of Honour at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. L-R: Baroness Janet Fookes DBE, King Charles III, Judy Ling Wong CBE, Piet Oudolf, Queen Camilla & Keith Weed. (© RHS/Oliver Dixon)

Who Won The Elizabeth Medal Of Honour?

The 2023 recipients of the Elizabeth Medal of Honour are:

  • Baroness Janet Fookes DBE
  • Judy Ling Wong CBE
  • Piet Oudolf

‘It is a great honour that Their Majesties The King and Queen have presented the first Elizabeth Medal of Honour to the three recipients today,’ said Weed. ‘Piet Oudolf, the Right Honourable tho Baronoss Janet Fookes DBE and Judy Ling Wong CBE are all extremely worthy of the award and we thank them for all they have done and continue to do to promote the power of gardening and plants.’

The medals were presented by King Charles in the Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration, a Feature Garden designed by Dave Green, brimming with some of the late Queen’s favourite plants, including roses, foxgloves and camassias in soft pink and blue hues, overlooked by a sculpture of King Charles. Enclosed by hedges on three sides, the circular lawn with curved bench is intended to instil a sense of calm and seclusion for contemplation and reflection on the monarchy.

RHS Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration

RHS Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration. Designed by Dave Green. Feature Garden. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Stand no 111. (© RHS/Tim Sandall)

Baroness Janet Fookes DBE

Baroness Fookes, 87, is a Tory peer who served as an MP from 1970 to 1997 for Merton and Morden and Plymouth Drake. Since 2002, she has served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords. The Baroness has ‘long been a leading voice in Parliament on the importance of horticulture’, according to the Royal Family, highlighting ‘its role in supporting healthy lives and communities, sustainable landscapes, and protecting the environment against pollution and climate change alongside its significance for the economy’.

Judy Ling Wong CBE

Environmental activist Judy Ling Wong also received the Elizabeth Medal of Honour. She established the Black Environment Network (BEN) in 1987, building relationships between people from ethnic minorities and the built environment, and encouraging more people from minority ethnic backgrounds to visit the countryside; she is internationally recognised as a pioneer in this field, touching the lives of countless people who would not ordinarily have access to nature, and stimulating a desire to participate in and protect the natural world around them. She received her CBE in the late Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours. 

Piet Oudolf

One of the world’s most renowned garden designers – he is the man behind the New York High Line and the Serpentine Gallery’s interior garden, among many other projects – Piet Oudolf’s life has been dedicated to creating sustainable and naturalistic designs, ‘focusing on the seasonal life cycle of plants which are chosen for their shape and texture rather than just their blooms,’ says the Royal Family. ‘He encourages gardeners to embrace the beauty of all seasons and has inspired millions away from the traditional and prescribed design of western gardens.’

Featured image: King Charles III at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. (© RHS/Oliver Dixon; cropped). All images courtesy of the Royal Horticultural Society.