This footage was found on a reel of 16mm cine film amongst our film collection which we thought consisted mainly of footage shot by plant collectors in the Himalayas. There were a few surprises amongst the films, but one was this reel showing George V and Queen Mary with our Regius Keeper at the time, Sir William Wright Smith (1875-1956). Smith was knighted in 1932 and was also King’s Botanist in Scotland, and indeed, later the Queen’s Botanist in Scotland, making him part of the Royal Household.
The group seems to be filmed walking through the Rock Garden and adjoining Heath Garden which was established in 1935, quite possibly for the Jubilee. Queen Mary was known to be a keen gardener, and apparently the royal couple made informal visits to the Garden throughout the ’20s and early ’30s.
RBGE has a vast photographic collection documenting the garden over the last 120 years or so, but we have few photographs of people enjoying the garden, and no photographs documenting the jubilee visit, although photographs are what we use to document Royal visits now, so to find footage of this visit that we know very little about, and to see how interested George and Mary were in the Garden is very thrilling.