Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1962, Royal Highness is a large, light pink rose with a very strong fragrance and glossy dark green leaves, blooming between spring and fall. It won the All-America Rose Selections (AARS) Award in 1963. Royal Highness is available for sale commercially, in nurseries and online.
Hybrid Tea Rose
Royal Highness is a hybrid tea rose by classification. In the 1960s, other outstanding hybrid tea roses introduced included the velvety red Mister Lincoln, the orange Fragrant Cloud and the snow white Pascali. The first and original hybrid tea rose was La France, introduced by Jean-Baptiste Guillot of France in 1867. La France was also light pink with large blooms and a strong fragrance.
Horticulturists categorize hybrid tea roses like Royal Highness as “modern roses” to differentiate them from the earlier generations of tea roses that belong to the classical class of “old garden roses.” Hybrid tea roses generally exhibit between 25 and 60 petals. Royal Highness generally exhibits between 40 and 45.
The breeder of Royal Highness was Wilhelm Kordes II (1891 to 1976) of Germany. The “American Rose Annual 1977” refers to Kordes as “the grand old man of rose breeding.” He was the oldest son of Wilhelm Kordes I, who established a nursery, Wilhelm Kordes & Sons, in Elmshorn in 1887. By 1920, the nursery specialized in the breeding of roses in Sparrieshoop. Kordes roses are the products of years of research and stringent testing in terms of color, size, form, vase life, disease resistance and fragrance.
Role in World History
The historic Peace rose, ivory-yellow with pink edges, is one of the parents of Royal Highness. Its breeder was Francis Meilland of France, who hybridized the Peace rose in 1935. It was not known as the Peace rose at first, but rather introduced in 1942 under the name Mme A. Meilland to honor the breeder's mother. In Germany, its name was Gloria Dei and in Italy, it was Gioia. Introduced in America in 1945 as Peace, this rose fittingly marked the end of World War II. It won the AARS Award for 1946, the only winner that year. Besides Royal Highness, other descendants of the Peace rose include Garden Party and Princesse de Monaco.
Virgo (Virgo Liberationem) is the other parent of Royal Highness. Its breeder was Charles Mallerin of France, who introduced this large-flowered white hybrid tea rose in 1947. Virgo is a mildly fragrant rose.