This Is What the Platinum Jubilee Will Smell Like

·4 min read

The client list of Floris London, an elegant family-run perfumery founded by Juan Famenias Floris and his wife Elizabeth in 1730, reads like history’s best-smelling Who’s Who. Oscar Wilde frequented the jewel-box boutique near St. James’s Palace to pick up a carnation soliflore called Malmaison; David Bowie wore the fresh, woody Elite; Winston Churchill favored the classic eau de cologne Special No. 127; and both Cary Grant and Ian Fleming—who namedropped Floris in several Bond novels—were devoted to the impeccably debonair No. 89, a cocktail of bergamot, lavender, vetiver, and smooth woods. But the perfume house’s most elite and long-standing relationship has been with British royals.

Photo credit: April Long
Photo credit: April Long

Floris was issued its first Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales in 1800, followed by 15 more—including one from Queen Victoria, for whom the perfumery created radiant floral Bouquet de La Reine as a wedding gift when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Now, Floris holds two Royal Warrants: As producer of toiletries for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and as the official perfumer to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. “A Royal Warrant is an incredible endorsement,” says Edward Bodenham, Floris’s Perfume Director and 9th generation company steward. “It’s a mark of recognition for goods of high standard that are purchased by the royal household. Every three or four years, you must confirm that your relationship with the royals is ongoing, and also that you are becoming more sustainable.” A flip through Floris’s purchase ledgers can attest that the royal predilection for finely crafted fragrances has never flagged—there are entries for virtually every prince, princess, duke, duchess, king, and queen since the 1700s. Many of the products beloved by this high-born parade of customers are still available, including a rose-scented mouthwash that Floris has sold since the 1800s and which continues to be a favorite of the royal household today.

Photo credit: PA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: PA Images - Getty Images

The newest fragrance from Floris, Platinum 22, is truly momentous. Created to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which marks her 70th year on the throne, it was inspired by HRH’s gardens, specifically those that surround Buckingham Palace. “During the Queen’s Coronation festival in 2013, the Floris team spent several days on the grounds of the palace,” Bodenham remembers. “When we created Platinum 22, we were thinking of that experience: we wanted to capture the flowers, the trees, and the gravitas of the gardens in general.”

Photo credit: David Rius & Núria Tuca - Getty Images
Photo credit: David Rius & Núria Tuca - Getty Images

To wit, rose, blackcurrant and violet leaf shimmer atop a base of cedarwood and amber—but there are unexpected elements as well: lime, to bring a flash of freshness, and tea notes, to pay homage to the tea parties that the Queen has held in her gardens over the decades. The effect is supremely sophisticated; Platinum 22 smells rich, regal, and, thanks to the warmth of tonka and the smoothness of orris, somehow familiar. “We wanted it to have a comforting quality,” Bodenham says, “just like the Queen herself.”

Photo credit: Reg Speller - Getty Images
Photo credit: Reg Speller - Getty Images

The fragrance took pride of place at the Floris concession at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, known to be one of the Queen’s favorite events, in mid-May (she notably made her first public appearance after an extended absence at the Show on May 14th), and it will be showcased throughout the Jubilee celebrations in Floris’s historic boutique at No. 89 Jermyn Street. The store, much the same since it first opened in 1730, is an essential stop for any fragrance lover in London: its walls are lined with Spanish mahogany cabinets from the Great Exhibition of 1851, and a small museum-like back room displays such artifacts as an 1863 letter from Florence Nightingale thanking Mr. Floris for “a sweet-smelling nosegay” and a receipt from Marilyn Monroe’s purchase of six bottles of Floris Rose & Geranium Bath Essence, which were delivered to her at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Photo credit: Floris
Photo credit: Floris

As Bodenham notes, the store has something in common with its most famous customer. Reflecting upon his country’s enduring affection for the Queen, he says, “She represents stability, a sense of longevity and continuity that is very comforting. Especially in a world where things change so much day by day and month by month. People come into our shop, and they say, ‘Thank goodness this is still here!’ There’s something quite nice about a person, or a place, that stands the test of time.”

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