His Majesty officially opened the National Botanic Garden of Wales at its formation in July 2000 and became our Patron.
He continued over the years as The Prince of Wales to show great support to the important role it carries out in science, research and conservation and has visited several times, most recently in July of this year when he said he was thrilled to be back and praised the progress that had been made since the last time he visited.
The Botanic Garden was honoured therefore to receive an invitation to attend a Service of Prayer and Reflection for the life of the Queen at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff. I was delighted to be asked by the Chair of Trustees, Gary Davies and Vice Chair Julie James to represent the Garden, as they were already committed to lead an event to thank and recognise staff and volunteers for their hard work over the past year and during the hardship of the Pandemic.
The service was extremely moving and a fitting reflection on the life of Her Majesty. The Cathedral resounded to the sound of beautiful music and singing, and the gathering listened intently to a heartfelt address from the Archbishop of Wales, The Most Reverend Andrew John, which paid tribute to the late Queen.
Amongst dignitaries, civic and interfaith leaders from across Wales were Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford, Llywydd Elin Jones, the Prime Minister Liz Truss and Welsh secretary Robert Buckland .
Later I was again honoured to attend a small private reception for the King and Queen Consort, hosted by Mr Drakeford in the glorious banqueting hall at Cardiff Castle – for local charities and faith leaders. I was presented to both the Queen Consort Camilla and His Majesty and was pleased to be able to briefly share an update with him of the work going on at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Thousands lined the streets of Cardiff and inside the Castle courtyard to pay tribute to and to catch a glimpse of the new King and his Consort who were greeted by gun salutes and the happy faces of hundreds of cheering school children. It was a real pleasure to be part of such a poignant occasion – an occasion to remember the life of a Queen so loved by her country, but also to witness the warmth with which the new King and his Consort were welcomed to Wales.
Melanie Doel OBE
Trustee at the National Botanic Garden of Wales