Archives: The Queen & Harkness Roses

25th March 2022
Archives: The Queen & Harkness Roses

Her Majesty plants three Harkness Roses in Kunming in October 1986. In October 1986, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited China for a six-day tour, and their arrival marked the first time a British sovereign had ever set foot in the Middle Kingdom.

After visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an, which were perhaps a requirement on the royal trip, the Queen also made a stop on her private plane in Kunming. Every Spring City resident alive at the time will remember the historic moment, however, Her Majesty’s appearance in Yunnan is barely known outside of the city to this day.


The Queen took the Longmen Yacht to visit Lake Dian and travelled to Daguan Park along the waterway. After disembarking, she and Prince Philip walked along the stone bridge to the core area of Jinhuapu. She was particularly focused on the plants of Yunnan during her visit, and in the flowerbeds, she had a contribution to add to the many flowerbeds already adorning the park. The royals planted three rose bushes, bred by Harkness Roses, that had been especially brought from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

In the many decades that have passed, the rose plants planted by The Queen are now commemorated with a simple plaque at the foot of Guanjia Tang, a manmade hill inside the park.