Turkish growers shipping 1.5M carnations for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral

Top Turkish growers have turned to air cargo to be able to rapidly meet the demand that has rocketed for their carnations that will be used during the mourning period and the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a towering presence on the world stage for 70 years, Elizabeth died peacefully on Thursday afternoon after her health deteriorated. Her funeral will take place on Sept. 19 and her body will lie in state for four days prior to that.

Demand for carnations to be used during the mourning period and the state funeral of the 96-year-old queen has skyrocketed by up to 90%, according to growers from Turkish southern Antalya and southwestern Isparta provinces.

They say shipments for at least 1.5 million flowers had started and firms have been forced to opt for air cargo, instead of traditional land freighters, to meet the orders that have prompted daily working hours to be increased and companies to hire extra workers.

Queen Elizabeth’s coffin began a six-hour journey from her summer home in the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh on Sunday as thousands lined the route in tribute to the late monarch.

The coffin will then be flown to London on Tuesday where it will remain at Buckingham Palace before being taken to Westminster Hall to lie in state until the funeral at Westminster Abbey at 10 a.m. GMT on Sept. 19.

Selçuk Çelebi, a member of Antalya Commodity Exchange (ATB) Council and Cut Flower and Ornamental Plants Professional Committee, said extra orders started pouring in right after the announcement of the queen’s death.

“The national mourning and funeral program in the country is said to last 10 days,” he said, stressing that it coincided with a period of lower cut flowers production in Antalya and Isparta.

Growers have been having difficulties with normal weekly shipments, Çelebi said, noting that orders from the U.K. have been now prioritized.

“Due to the funeral, we have shifted our products, which we will have shipped by truck, into air shipments. While it takes seven to eight days with the truck, they have it in their hands the next day with the plane,” he said.

Stressing an increase in orders of almost 90%, Çelebi said they are trying to meet around 50% of that due to the production gap.

“Apart from the 10-day program, we expect this mobility to continue for about a month.”

Rabia Yıldırım, an agricultural engineer at a flower firm, said they had to increase daily working shifts from the usual eight hours and add fresh labor to meet the intensity.

Growers would have been normally shipping between 600,000 and 700,000 flowers to Britain a week during this period, according to Central Anatolian Ornamental Plants and Products Exporters’ Association President Ismail Yılmaz.

“With the death of Queen Elizabeth, we estimate that this figure will reach at least 1.5 million during the funeral period,” said Yılmaz.

“There is a serious increase in demands from the U.K. Currently, we have clove-oriented production in the highlands. We expect this activity to continue for a certain period of time even after the funeral and mourning program.”


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