‘Inclusive’ Chelsea Flower Show hosts its first same-sex wedding

Woman seen looking at flowers next to a Chelsea Flower Show sign

The Chelsea Flower Show has hosted its first same-sex wedding.

Award-winning garden designer Manoj Malde and Clive Gillmor married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in the Eastern Eye Garden of Unity, on Monday (22 May), the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announced.

It was the first time the show has hosted a same-sex marriage, in an event described as “inclusive” and “demonstrably open”. The couple married in an area surrounded by colourful beams and flowers, created by Malde.

RHS judge Alexander-Sinclair told the PA news agency: “It’s a Chelsea first and Chelsea one-off – it’s not something you expect to happen at a flower show.

“Isn’t it a glorious idea? Somebody who actually designs this garden about bringing people together, then gets married [in] it. It’s a nice way to connect the whole thing.”

The couple have reportedly been together for 33 years.

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Malde, a presenter of the BBC’s Your Garden Made Perfect, told the Evening Standard: “It took us 18 years to get engaged, but in our minds we’ve always been married to each other. Today, we’re making it official. The RHS have been amazing.

“If I had to do all the wedding organisation as well as the guardian build, I would have been a broken man. The build is always very stressful but everything has gone to plan.”

This year’s flower show has reportedly been designed with inclusivity in mind, with one area, Horatio’s Garden, designed to be wheelchair accessible.

Another garden is inspired by refugee migration routes across Europe, with crops and herbs eaten by refugee communities in the UK. The garden is expected to be relocated as part of a community scheme in Croydon that provides support for residents to grow and cook their own food.

This year is the first in the show’s 110-year history where there are more female garden designers than male. 

Alexander-Sinclair added: “Chelsea has been about a lot of things over the years, but it’s really about everybody coming together and looking at [things] they love and enjoy: gardening and flowers and the natural world and loving each other.

“It shows that something that has been previously thought to be rather stuffy and elitist is actually here for everybody. Gardening is there for everybody to enjoy.”

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