Florists prepare for soaring sales ahead of queen’s funeral
LONDON — Flower sales are set to blossom for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II next week, as Britons rush to pay respects across the country.
Well-wishers descended on London’s vibrant Columbia Road flower market on Sunday to snap up colorful bouquets after Britain’s longest-serving monarch died last Thursday.
Thousands of people have already left cards, flowers, toys, and other trinkets outside Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.
“It’s a lot busier than normal following the passing of the queen,” Albert Deane told Agence France-Presse (AFP) at the weekly market.
“People are buying a lot of roses and chrysanthemums… that last well outside,” added the 39-year-old flower seller.
Demand was “significantly high” in recent days, particularly for the queen’s favorite white lilies, according to the British Florist Association.
“I understand the queen was [also] fond of yellow flowers, so I thought I would pick up yellow lilies,” purchaser Caroline Roberts said before she and her daughters went to Green Park, a lush oasis located near Buckingham Palace, to lay their flowers.
Student Georgia Gomez, 19, picked sunflowers for her tribute, saying they were “quite bright, representative of her life, and long-lasting.”
“Paying my respect is something very important and it’s a moment in history that I’m getting to live through,” she also said.
French tourist Aurelie Morter, from Montpellier, was also buying a floral tribute.
“We wanted to make a gesture following the death of the queen,” she said.
Some predicted that demand for flowers in the run-up to the funeral will exceed that seen after the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
“When Diana passed away so many flowers were sold that week, it must have been the most flowers I’ve ever sold,” said Rosario Rospo, owner of florist OK Bouquet.
“Next Sunday, just a day before the funeral, it should be very busy, as we’re not too far away from the palace.”
Rospo predicted that demand would be higher “without a doubt.”
Deane agreed. “It’s an unprecedented occasion. I haven’t seen anything [like it] in my lifetime,” he said.
Around 60 million bouquets were left at Buckingham and Kensington palaces after Diana’s death, in a floral ocean that remained in place for 10 days.
In contrast, British authorities requested this week that well-wishers leave flowers for the queen at a dedicated tribute garden inside the park.
Mourners are also asked to stop leaving nonfloral objects — like balloons, lit candles, and soft toys resembling Paddington Bear.
Well-wishers have also been asked to refrain from leaving marmalade sandwiches in tribute — which the queen famously pulled out of her handbag in a Platinum Jubilee skit with fictional character Paddington earlier this year.
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