April 18, 2018

{Why Royal Weddings Matter} No. 2: The Scent of Love

Continuing our celebration of this spring's royal wedding.... the second post for my "Why Royal Weddings Matter" Confluence Daily column, "The Scent of Love" reprinted below:

The Scent of Love

It’s only natural that flowers are in the news surrounding this spring’s royal wedding and the love story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—those two deeply soulful romantics! The prince has been open about the memory of his late mother having “an important role in their relationship,” even requesting that their wedding florist (London-based decorative designer Philippa Craddock) include white garden roses in their ceremony, a particular favorite of Princess Diana.

According to goddess legends, the beautiful and resilient rose, with its intoxicating fragrance, is celebrated as the flower of Venus, the Goddess of love in Greek mythology. (“In her love nest,” historian Marina Heilmeyer writes, “Cleopatra had pillows filled with rose petals.”) Affectionately called “the queen of flowers,” inspiring sensuous poetry and close admiration, no other bloom in nature has such a histoire as the rose.

In turn, the rose is most treasured by brides—especially for the intimacy of their bouquet—its scent seems to tap into the memory of the heart. No wonder, as perfumer Mandy Aftel explained: “Scents come in without language and go directly to the emotional center of the brain. That’s why scent is so connected to memory.”

Aromatherapy connoisseur and writer Christopher Bamford reveals that smell is the “most ancient and magical sense, acting as a sort of sensual medium between heaven and earth. A scent or perfume was thought to express the ‘inner essence’ or spiritual nature of a thing.” Therefore, when we smell a rose, it’s the scent of something truly divine.

Princess Diana was known to keep fragrant, fresh-cut garden flowers in her Kensington Palace apartments. Perhaps the remembered scent of roses is such a beloved memory for Harry that having white roses at his wedding is a naturally intimate way to connect the two women closest to his heart.

In early Christian lore, the “mysterious” rose was so cherished (despite its sensual past) that it came to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary; red roses symbolized her suffering, white roses her joy. Did Diana intuitively know this?  According to the former head gardener at Kensington Palace, the princess always favored white flowers over red ones. Unfulfilled in her own search for love, yet Diana found joy in the love of her sons and encouraged them to be true to their heart’s desire. As though she was leaving them with an inner directive to move thoughtfully through the ‘suffering’, then live gratefully inside the ‘joy’.

The memory of love, indeed—with the lingering scent of roses.~

[Bits of this column excerpted from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding, available on Amazon.]

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