‘Queen Victoria’ rises from the grave, plants tree in Whippingham


Queen Victoria, who ended her 63-year reign at Osborne House in 1901, has reappeared in the parish where she died many moons ago – to plant a tree.

Known affectionately as the Grandmother of Europe, the ersatz Queen popped up on home soil in Whippingham at St Mildred’s Church on Tuesday morning (October 23) – carrying a regal shovel.

Accompanied by her son Prince Arthur, her Chamberlain, friends Lady Elizabeth, Lord and Lady Crisp and the esteemed Vicar of St Mildred’s Church – ‘Victoria’ planted a tree in honour of the Isle of Wight Stroke Society,  who presided over the spot of royal gardening.

Being careful not to tread on her favourite flora, the violet – the Queen posed for pictures with local children – after all, she was but a girl of 18 when she took to the throne.

It wasn’t the first time Her Majesty had set foot on the hallowed grounds of St Mildred’s Church, she dutifully walked her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, down the aisle in 1885 when she married Prince Henry of Battenburg.

Queen Victoria (Rita Clews) plants a commemorative tree for Prince Louis – photo by Jon Sheath

The real Queen was rather miffed when she learnt of the engagement, and only spoke to Beatrice by handwritten notes  for seven months while she came to terms with it.

Prince Henry would later become the Governor of Carisbrooke Castle on the Island and Captain-General and Governor of the Isle of Wight – let’s hope these were accolades enough to impress Her Majesty.

Of course, this was all just a happy re-enactment, as Margaret Mumford from the Isle of Wight Stroke Society explained: “We planted a commemorative tree for the birth of Prince Louis, there’s also a tree for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

“We planted a white birch tree, and the reason we were dressed as Victorians was because Queen Victoria was believed to have started this tradition – something to do with the principles of royal succession.”

Those dressed up were Rita Clews as Queen Victoria, Frank Clews as Prince Arthur, Jacquie Bennett as Lady Elizabeth, Mike Ward playing the Chamberlain, Paul and Tracey Crisp as the Lord and Lady Crisp and the Vicar of St Mildreds, playing himself. All in aid of the Isle of Wight Stroke Society.

HM Queen Victoria – Rita Clews, Prince Arthur – Frank Clews, Lady Elizabeth – Jacquie Bennett, Chamberlain – Mike Ward, Lord Crisp – Paul Crisp, Lady Crisp – Tracey Crisp