As the joyous occasion of St. Patrick’s Day approached, the Irish Guards prepared to don their traditional buttonholes of shamrock, a gesture bestowed upon them with generosity and thoughtfulness by none other than Alexandra. This longstanding tradition, a symbol of camaraderie and Irish pride, has been a cherished custom among the Irish Guards, a tradition that traces its roots back to a time when wearing the green was considered an unpardonable sin.
It was the late Queen Victoria who, in a momentous decision, declared that “The Wearing o’ the Green” should no longer be deemed a transgression. This decree met with the approval of every right-thinking gentlewoman and marked a turning point in the perception of the iconic symbol. The Irish Guards, year after year, have continued to proudly wear their shamrock buttonholes on St. Patrick’s Day, a testament to the enduring legacy of this historic decision.
The choice of the specific plant representing shamrock remains a topic of debate, with opinions divided between Trifolium repens and T. minus. Whether it was one or the other that St. Patrick selected for illustration, the debate persists. However, the beauty of acetosella, a British wild plant, is often favored over the others. Regardless of the botanical intricacies, the essence of St. Patrick’s Day is captured in the lively green trefoils adorning the uniforms of the Irish Guards.
The Shamrock League, founded by the Countess of Limerick, has played a pivotal role in preserving and promoting the significance of shamrock. The League’s commitment to the symbol goes beyond borders, as demonstrated by a thoughtful initiative. A specialist from Cork sent out seeds to be planted on the graves of Irish soldiers who fell in South Africa. These seeds took root and flourished, a living testament to the enduring spirit of the shamrock.
Gentlewoman – Saturday 14 March 1908