‘I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree,’ the Queen insists – and then does it

By Zach Harper

How many gardeners do you know who are more than 90 years old? For that matter, how many people do you know who are more than 90 years old who plant trees? You can now name one.

The Queen surprised those she met at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) near Cambridge on July 9, when she gave her handbag to her lady-in-waiting during a tree planting.

“Can you take that? I can’t do both,” she said.

Members of the Royal Family often plant trees at important events and every time they visit a country outside the UK. Photo: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

When officials offered help, the 93-year-old responded, “No, no. I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree.” With that, NIAB chairperson Jim Godfrey handed her a shovel and with further ado, she got going on the work.

“I don’t think I’ve ever planted one of these before,” she said in the midst of the job. But she didn’t stop there. She lifted two more loads of soil before she finished.

Look at that grin! Photo: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

When she was done, she leaned back on her shovel and grinned at everyone there before using the back side of the shovel to subtly nudge the equivalent of another load of dirt in.

Her Majesty then looked at everyone and cheekily joked in her typical dry style, “Somebody’s going to have to plant it properly now.”

The Queen plants a tree as part of the visit to @NIABTAG#RoyalVisitCambridgepic.twitter.com/UFMyyFZafo

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) July 9, 2019

This wasn’t the first time a royal has planted a tree at the NIAB. During her visit on July 9, the Queen was given a bowl from part of a tree her grandmother, Queen Mary, planted while there in 1921.

The Queen was presented with a bowl created from part of the tree planted by Queen Mary in 1921 @NIABTAG#RoyalVisitCambridgepic.twitter.com/AfRN9EXOzV

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) July 9, 2019

This was a busy day for Her Majesty! The Queen spent the rest of her visit to the NIAB learning about crop resiliency and what the institution’s breeders are doing to improve farms’ yields throughout the UK.

From there, she headed to Queen’s College Cambridge, one of her patronages, and met with graduates and the college’s staff before she had a meal with them in its dining hall.

The Queen & The Duchess of Gloucester met Eliza and Yasmin who both received transplants earlier this year and became friends.
Eliza had a heart transplant and Yasmin had a double lung transplant.
The Queen also met Mr Pedro Catarino, Clinical Lead for Transplantation. pic.twitter.com/T71Pe2jRmR

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) July 9, 2019

In the afternoon, she stepped out to the Royal Papworth Hospital with the Duchess of Gloucester to learn about the important work the hospital is doing with heart and lung patients. In 1979, the hospital carried out the first successful heart transplant in the UK. She also toured some of its new facilities, including its catheter laboratories and a critical care unit.

Don't miss a beat with HELLO! Canada's Daily Hits newsletter, your daily dose of royal and celebrity news, fashion, weddings and more. CLICK HERE to sign up for free!