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The rose has been the English flower from time immemorial; and the rose has always been the type of beauty.

There was no flower officially known as an English rose until very recently, when the rose-grower David Austin used the name for his style. David Austin roses combine the demure, crinoline beauty of old-fashioned roses with the huge vigorous blooms and repeat flowering of modern roses. They are stunning. He has created an enormous range of every colour. Go to www.davidaustinroses.com and look through the Photo Gallery for examples.

An English rose means a young Englishwoman of delicate beauty, shy and healthy, with a neat face. An overused term perhaps, but rightly applied to a few of the best known, including Jean Simmons, Jenny Agutter, and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin rewrote their classic Candle in the Wind for Diana's funeral on 6 September 1997, with the line "Goodbye Norma Jean" becoming "Goodbye English rose (may you ever grow in our hearts)".

In 2003 Madonna brought out a twee little children's book called The English Roses, to a certain amount of derision from reviewers, contrasting the outcast child-Madonna figure with an in-set of English roses.

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