First Elizabeth Medal of Honour Awarded by Their Majesties The King and Queen at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

May 22nd 2023

On Monday 22 May 2023, at RHS Chelsea Flower Show – the first recipients were presented with The Elizabeth Medal of Honour by His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla to recognise their commitment to championing horticulture.

The RHS has introduced the new Elizabeth Medal of Honour (EMH), with the gracious assent of His Majesty King Charles III in perpetual remembrance of Her Majesty’s glorious reign.

The Elizabeth Medal of Honour is for British non-horticulturists, and International non-horticulturists and horticulturists who have made a significant impact to the advancement of the science, art or practice of horticulture for the benefit of all generations and the environment. The Medal will be confined to 70 recipients at any one time in reference to the 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign.

Recipients are world-renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf, the Right Honourable the Baroness Janet Fookes DBE and environmental champion Judy Ling Wong CBE.

The Medals were presented in the Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration, at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Garden incorporates some of the preferred plantings of the late Queen Elizabeth II, with light pinks and whites against a backdrop of greenery, alongside purples and blues which are favoured by His Majesty The King.

Speaking about the new Medal, RHS President Keith Weed said: “The Royal Horticultural Society was exceptionally fortunate to have Her Majesty as our Patron throughout her reign. This award celebrates both Her Majesty’s glorious reign and the work she did to raise the profile of UK horticiulture both nationally and internationally through her visits to RHS Chelsea Flower Show and wider work.

It is a great honour that Their Majesties The King and Queen have presented the first Elizabeth Medal of Honour to the three recipients today. Piet Oudolf, the Right Honourable the Baroness Janet Fookes DBE and Judy Ling Wong CBE are all extremely worthy of the award and we thank them for all they have done and continue to do to promote the power of gardening and plants.

The recipients of the Medal, presented by King Charles III, were:

  • The Right Hon. the Baroness Fookes DBE – has long been a leading voice in Parliament on the importance of horticulture for its role in supporting healthy lives and communities, sustainable landscapes, and protecting the environment against pollution and climate change alongside its significance for the economy. Baroness Fookes is a passionate supporter of horticulture, calling on Government for greater support to unlock the immense benefits it brings for society, young people and the environment.
  • Piet Oudolf – one of the world’s most renowned garden designers, creating sustainable and naturalistic schemes displaying nature and focusing on the seasonal life cycle of plants which are chosen for their shape and texture rather than just their blooms. He encourages gardeners to embrace the beauty of all seasons and has inspired millions away from the traditional and prescribed design of western gardens. Oudolf has designed numerous high profile projects, particularly in Europe, the US and UK, including the current planting of the glasshouse borders at RHS Wisley and others such as the celebrated New York High Line, the Serpentine Gallery and Vitra HQ in the UK.
  • Judy Ling Wong CBE – is an environmental activist and a strong advocate of greening poor quality urban spaces. She is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the field of ethnic participation in the built and natural environment, primarily through her role as Founder and Director of the Black Environment Network for 27 years, where she is now Honorary President. She champions planting for wildlife to increase biodiversity and works to enable all to have access to nature and equality of opportunity to environmental participation, especially in the urban environment. Touching the lives of people who would not traditionally have access to nature, Judy Ling Wong has brought joy to countless lives, along with stimulating a desire to enhance and protect the natural world around them.

The Elizabeth Medal of Honour will join the Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH), which was established in 1897, with the assent of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, to enable the RHS Council to give the highest possible honour and recognition to British horticulturists by the Society. In recognition of the duration of Queen Victoria’s reign, only 63 medals may be held at any one time.

Current holders of the VMH include His Majesty King Charles III who was presented with the Medal by his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2009.

Source: based on RHS Press Release 22/05/2023