Queen Elizabeth has formally opened the Chelsea Flower Show.

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A host of celebrities, including Beatles legend Ringo Star and British TV presenter Chris Tarrant, looked on as the queen declared the 86th annual show open today (20.05.08).

Chelsea is the ultimate show in the gardening calendar, and boasts some 600 exhibitors.

Among the top names who are showcasing their work are Diarmuid Gavin, Tom Stuart-Smith, Arabella Lennox-Boyd and Cleve West. The show is a cross between trade fair, horticultural competition and showbiz ball and over 150,000 people are expected to visit.

Actress Felicity Kendall, who regularly attends, said: “It has become bigger and more impressive. It is like window shopping, very inspirational and traditional.”

The queen toured the show yesterday (19.05.08), ahead of the official opening. Among the gardens she admired was one designed in the memory of George Harrison, called From Life To Life, A Garden for George.

The queen spent several minutes talking to George’s widow Olivia and designer Yvonne Innes.

Olivia said: “It was nice of her to visit. I really feel honoured, truly honoured.”

Many other royals also toured the show, among them were the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.