'Tree-bilee' unveiled by Prince Charles to celebrate Queen's 70 years on the throne

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Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince of Wales with the first Jubilee tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle earlier this year, on March 23, 2021 - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince of Wales with the first Jubilee tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle earlier this year, on March 23, 2021 - Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As someone who has planted more than 1,500 trees during her long reign, the Queen might be considered something of an expert.

So it was fitting that she was on hand to cast a careful eye over her eldest son as he launched the Queen’s Green Canopy, a nationwide planting initiative designed to create a lasting legacy to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. Or, as the Prince of Wales described it, a "Tree-bilee".

Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girlguiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and businesses will be encouraged to plant trees from October, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022.

The initiative launched on Monday to give people time to plan their projects.

The Prince said that planting trees was “a statement of hope and faith in the future” – one that the Queen, 95, has approached with gusto for many decades.

Queen Elizabeth reading the inscription on the spade with which she planted the Queen's Tree to commemorate her coronation - PA Archive 
Queen Elizabeth reading the inscription on the spade with which she planted the Queen's Tree to commemorate her coronation - PA Archive

He appealed to the nation to reciprocate the “profoundly symbolic act” to celebrate the historic milestone of his mother’s 70 years on the throne.

Participants will be encouraged to learn more about the best way to plant trees to ensure they flourish for years to come.

Prince Charles, 72, said forests are “amongst the richest biological areas on Earth,” noting that “quite simply, we cannot live without them”.

The famously green-fingered Prince said he was “delighted” to launch the QGC initiative by planting an oak with his mother at Windsor Castle earlier this year.

He added: “As we approach this most special year, I invite you all to join me to ‘Plant a tree for the Jubilee’ – in other words, a ‘Tree-bilee!’”

The Prince, patron of the QGC, is likely to have concluded his own brief planting ceremony as he always does, with the words: “Good luck, tree!”

He will be a vocal champion of the project, having reflected in 2018: “As I get older, all I really long for is to plant trees.”

The Queen too, still enjoys such moments. In 2019, at the age of 93, she politely turned down an offer of help in scattering soil over the roots of a new hornbeam at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, outside Cambridge.

“No, no! I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree,” she declared, before handing her handbag to her lady-in-waiting and grasping the shovel.

Queen Elizabeth plants a tree during a visit to the National Institute of Agricultural Botany on July 9, 2019 - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth plants a tree during a visit to the National Institute of Agricultural Botany on July 9, 2019 - Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, welcomed the initiative, saying: “Our trees stand at the frontline of our fight against climate change and by sustaining our beautiful countryside for generations to come, the Queen’s Green Canopy is a fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s years of service to this country.

“I urge everyone to get involved and plant a tree for the Jubilee.”

It is hoped that each county will have at least one significant planting – a Platinum Jubilee Avenue or a woodland or copse in the Queen's name, in addition to single tree plantings.

A number of community forests are also planned through a partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

From June, the Woodland Trust will offer schools and community groups the chance to apply for three million free saplings, available on a first-come first-served basis.

The QGC will also make contact with as many state schools in the UK as possible to arrange free trees through partner organisations.

An interactive map on the QGC website will track all planting projects in the hope of inspiring others whilst creating a map of the green canopy stretching across the country.

From October, participants will be able to upload images of their newly planted Jubilee trees.

The initiative will also showcase 70 irreplaceable ancient woodlands across the country and identify 70 ancient trees to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years of service.

A pilot training programme for unemployed young people will also be created to plant and manage trees.

The initiative is supported by the Woodland Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society, Trees for Cities, The Forest Canopy Foundation and the Forestry Commission.

The QGC follows the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, which aims to create a network of forest conservation projects across the 53 Commonwealth countries to mark Her Majesty’s lifetime of service.

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