Two Trees Planted By Prince of Wales

December 10, 2011

In 1860 the nineteen-year old Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son who became King Edward VII, thrilled America with an extended visit  which included a stop at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  The Prince made his Mount Auburn stop in the late afternoon of Friday, October 19.  He arived at the Chapel, where he was met by two Trustees, Messrs. Uriel Crocker and Charles Nazro, and shown the interior and statuary.  Local papers reported “with his own royal hands, [he assisted] in the planting of two trees near the ornamental ground, in front, so far as holding them in their proper position while the soil was placed around the roots.”  This concluding public act during the Prince’s American visit was a horticultural metaphor of international goodwill, for one tree was a European Beech and the other a native American Yellowwood.  An original poem by Mabel Lindsay, published in the Mount Auburn Memorial, November 4, 1860, celebrated this friendship:

One tree shall wear the purple, royal hue,
The other to its mountain nature true,
Republican and unadorned shall shine,
In simple beauty from the hand Divine;
And growing in such friendly neighborhood,
They type the lands which once at variance stood,
But now these enmities exist no more,
And friendly voices sound from shore to shore.

The public passion for royalty caused some to worry if either tree would have a chance to grow.  A report circulated that the trees had been actually destroyed “root and branch” by the crowd following the Prince’s entourage.  The Mount Auburn Memorial assured its readers, however, that, although some did pick off a few leaves as a relic of the visit and “one or two old ladies succeeded in snapping off a twig,” the trees were flourishing and “if all despoiling hands are now kept away, they will probably live.”

This excerpt is part of a longer article on Bigelow Chapel Lawn published in Sweet Auburn, the Newsletter of the Friends of Mount Auburn, Fall 1996.

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