Royal Roundup: Four Tons of Foliage Delivered to Westminster Abbey

Workers putting English field Maple trees in Westminster Abbey.

It appears Kate wants to turn Westminster Abbey into a version of Sherwood Forest. Although it was expected the Abbey would have some floral decoration, many were surprised when more than four tons of foliage was delivered yesterday (April 26). According to The Daily Mail, it took four workers using a forklift over 30 minutes to maneuver the first of eight 20-foot-high maple trees through the Abbey’s door. The paper estimates the cost of the Abbey floral spectacular at £50,000 ($82,600).

The arrangements are ecologically correct, a stance that no doubt pleases passionate organic gardener Prince Charles. For instance, the trees are seasonal and can be re-planted. Instead of cut flowers, seasonal, organic, growing British blooms are used as much as possible. Two pyramid-shaped ornamental Hornbeams will create a leafy “frame” around the choir.

“The rest of the historic Abbey will be bedecked in armfuls of cream and white flowers including blossoms, azaleas, rhododendrons, euphorbias, beech, wisteria, lilac — and even Chinese gooseberry (actinidia) which has distinctive tear-shaped, white-splashed leaves,” The Mail reports. By way of understatement, a palace aide said nothing has been left to chance.

In other royal wedding related news:

Kate Middleton running errands, from The Mirror.

• Leave it to the enterprising sorts at a UK tabloid to take a relatively ordinary photo and turn it into news. Kate drove from her home in Bucklebury this morning (April 27) to London. Wearing a cream jumper, pearl earrings, and her hair in a pony tail, Kate looked as well-dressed and prepared as ever. (It appears she is congenitally incapable of appearing with anything out of place.) As one would expect, there were shopping bags in the back seat of her Audi. The Daily Mirror took a photo of Kate behind the wheel, with what is believed to be a security officer at her side.

Detail, enlarged by The Mirror.

But The Mirror did not stop there. They enlarged the shot to see if anything in the back seat was newsworthy. Maybe one of the bags came from the shop of Kate’s wedding dress designer? What they found is intriguing. In fact, poking out of one of the bags is a piece of paper with printed italic script. It could be a portion of one of the readings Friday. Clearly visible are the words,  “the wearing of the wedding ring” and “with so much love within your hearts…” Not exactly earth-shattering words in a wedding ceremony, but it’s not a story you’ll see on the front page of The New York Times.

• Beer (and its cousin, ale) occupy a singular place in British life. Dropping by a pub for a pint is as much a ritual as drinking tea. None of that appears to matter to Kate and William. They have banned beer from the wedding reception at Buckingham Palace Friday afternoon. All reports are that neither Kate nor William are big drinkers of any sort, including beer. A “source” tells The Mirror, “Let’s face it, it isn’t really an appropriate drink to be serving in the Queen’s presence at such an occasion…It was always their intention to give their guests a sophisticated experience and they have chosen the food and drink with this in mind.”

• The Middletons may be commoners, but their bank accounts are hardly ordinary. This Is Money took a look at their finances. Of course, the family’s primary asset is PartyPieces, their online party supply business. PartyPieces is organized as a partnership and does not have to divulge its finances. Because of its royal connection, experts estimate PartyPieces is now worth $49.6 million.

Michael Middleton is a beneficiary of a trust set up in 1921 by one of his forebears, a wealthy wool merchant, that, in today’s dollars, was worth nearly $2.5 million. (BBC News has a map of the Middleton family tree.) Managed wisely, the trust could have grown by many multiples of that figure in the last 90 years. Michael also inherited $165,500 in today’s dollars when his mother died in 2005 and $154,500 when his father died last year.

Moreover, the Middletons do not like debt. They paid $1.3 million in cash (today’s dollars) for an apartment in London’s Chelsea mainly used by their three children. The apartment is now worth $2 million. The Middletons paid $489,000 in cash (today’s dollars) for several acres near their home in Bucklebury. And there’s very little left on the mortgage on their Bucklebury home, worth $2.5 million.

In fact, the Middletons appear to have something of a Midas touch. They were one of six investors who paid a “few hundreds pounds” each to invest in a race horse. Including monthly training and stable fees, let’s say the Middleton put in a total of £3,000. So far, the horse, Sohraab, has won £14,600 for each of its investors, who include the mother of UK Prime Minister David Cameron.