Royal family tree takes root at University of Leicester’s Botanic Garden

The University of Leicester’s royal roots have been strengthened with the planting of a special sapling gifted by the King.

A ceremony was held at the University’s Botanic Garden, in Oadby, on Friday 15 March, during which an acer campestre, more commonly known as a field maple, was planted in the grounds.

His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Mike Kapur Esq OBE, had selected the Botanic Garden, as the place to plant the sapling as a lasting legacy of King Charles III’s Coronation.

The King granted funds to each of the United Kingdom’s Lord-Lieutenants to plant one tree in the area they represent, to commemorate the Coronation.

The University was one of numerous organisations across the county invited by Mr Kapur to submit a bid to host a Coronation tree. Accessibility to the public and an ability to provide long-term care and maintenance to the tree were crucial to the Botanic Garden’s winning bid.

The ceremony saw Mr Kapur and University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, plant the tree. Invited guests also enjoyed a singing performance by Year 2 pupils from nearby Leicester High School.

After the ceremony, guests explored an exhibition which highlighted the work of the University’s Sustainability and Science teams and that of the Friends of the Botanic Garden and the Botanic Garden Education Programme.

The sapling was the sixth tree planted at the University that has a royal connection. In 1927, The Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) was received for a tour of the campus and planted a ginkgo biloba tree in the grounds. A hill cherry was planted in the Botanic Garden to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953 and the late Queen also planted a royal swamp cypress in the Garden on a visit to campus. The University also planted a Victoria plum to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and a Tibetan cherry tree to mark her passing.

Professor Canagarajah said: “It is a matter of great pride and a mark of esteem that the University of Leicester’s Botanic Garden has been chosen as the place to plant a sapling as a legacy of King Charles III’s Coronation.

“It is an honour that is cherished and valued deeply by our staff, students, and wider University community.

“The University’s history since the granting of our Royal Charter in 1957 has been intertwined with that of the Royal Family and I am delighted that this legacy continues at the start of His Majesty King Charles III’s reign.

“The sapling will create a lasting legacy of His Majesty King Charles III’s Coronation and an abiding memory of his passion for safeguarding the planet and protecting the environment.”

Mr Kapur said: “This commemorative tree is unique in Leicestershire – each county in the United Kingdom has been given the opportunity to plant a ceremonial tree to celebrate the Coronation, so although this is a unique focal point within the county, it joins a larger chain of commemorative plants across the country. The Botanic Garden is a particularly apt location for this celebration tree, due to its long association with the Royal Family and availability to the general public, and I am looking forward to seeing people come to visit it for many years to come.”