Alexandra Rose Day
Alexandra Rose Day (26 June) is a charitable fund raising event held in the United Kingdom since 1912 by Alexandra Rose Charities. It was first launched on the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Queen Alexandra, the consort of King Edward VII, from her native Denmark to the UK. The Queen requested that the anniversary be marked by the sale of roses in London to raise funds for her favourite charities.
The arrival of the Princess in England for the wedding in 1863, was a never-to-be-forgotten occasion. This was attributed to the then recent increase in the railway network, the lack of royal occasions in preceding years and the new process of photography, which had made it possible for pictures of the Princess to be sold in shops prior to the arrival. The City of London spent £40,000 on decorations and illuminations, and the result was a tumultuous reception for the bride.
Years passed and the 50th anniversary of the Princess’s arrival in London and her wedding to the late King Edward VII came. The Dowager Queen’s army of admirers insisted that the day of her arrival should be celebrated in a special way. A processional drive through the streets of London seemed an obvious choice, but Alexandra wanted an occasion that would help the sick and needy. She developed an idea which would benefit the funds of London hospitals through the sale of artificial wild roses, which were to be made by people with disabilities.
The day was to be called "Alexandra Rose Day," and the initial drive swept Londoners off their feet. The first event raised £32,000 (the equivalent of almost £2 million in 2002 money). The funds raised were a great benefit to hospitals, and the annual drive became an institution, one of the chief attractions of London’s summer, with Alexandra the star. By 1920, £775,000 for London hospitals had been raised. Queen Alexandra’s last Rose Day was 1923, the 60th anniversary of her arrival in England. She died two years later, in 1925.
After a period of raising money for charities that do not normally get national attention for fundraising, today Alexandra Rose Charities is tackling food poverty in London, most notably through providing vouchers for disadvantaged families to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Prime Minister traditionally launches the day by being the first to buy a rose.