Each of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – has a flower as one of its emblems. You will find them on some of the coins used throughout the United Kingdom.
The national flower of England is a rose. Many people think it is a red rose, but this is not actually the case – it is red and white and you will not find it growing anywhere. It is known as the Tudor rose or sometimes the Union rose and takes its name from the House of Tudor, the family that ruled England and Wales from 1485 to 1603 and included such famous monarchs as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
The first Tudor monarch was Henry VII. Henry’s father was Edmund Tudor, a Welshman, and his mother was Margaret Beaufort from the House of Lancaster. Henry brought to an end the so-called “Wars of the Roses“, the series of civil wars fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York between 1455 and 1487. The House of Lancaster used a red rose as a badge; and the House of York a white rose. At the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485), Henry defeated King Richard III, of the House of York, and took the crown of England. In January 1486 he married Elizabeth of York to bring all the factions together.
On his marriage, Henry VII adopted the Tudor rose as his emblem. It consists of five white inner petals, representing the House of York, and five red outer petals to represent the House of Lancaster. In heraldry it is referred to as “proper“, that is, naturally-coloured, even though it does not actually exist in nature.
The Tudor rose features in the Royal coat of arms and is used in the emblems of many institutions in England such as the Supreme Court and the Royal Navy. It also appears in the coat of arms of a number of towns and cities, including Oxford.
By David Bailey