Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
Queen Victoria was the granddaughter of King
George III and Queen Charlotte. Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter.
The Victoria Medal of Honour in Horticulture was established
by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1897 ‘in perpetual
remembrance of Her Majesty’s glorious reign, and to enable
the Council to confer honour on British horticulturists’.
63 recipients hold the medal at any one time, reflecting
the years of her reign (the longest of any monarch in British
history), and many of Kew’s staff have been so honoured.
Nearly all of the land belonging to the modern Gardens was
held by the Crown (the government) in 1841, when William
Hooker was made the first official Director. To this,
Victoria generously added part of Kew Green to make a grand
entrance for the public (Decimus Burton’s Main Gate),
and land which had been the royal kitchen garden for the Order
Beds. Having last used Kew Palace in 1844, she agreed to open it
to the public in 1898.
The last part of Kew Gardens to be added to the present site
was Queen Charlotte’s Cottage Grounds, 15 hectares (37 acres),
which Victoria donated to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
The area had rarely been visited and she hoped ‘that
this unique spot may be preserved in its present beautiful and
natural condition’. Today it is the heart of Kew’s
Conservation Area, containing one of London’s finest bluebell
The splendid Giant Amazon Waterlily was named Victoria regia in
honour of Her Majesty (now Victoria amazonica).
The Victoria Regia House (now the Waterlily House) was built in 1858
to display it at Kew, but it now grows better in the Princess of
to: Directors & Advisors