21/05/2012 16:50 BST

Chelsea Flower Show: Fencers Prove A Hit With Queen

It was fencing rather than plants that caught the Queen's eye at the Chelsea Flower Show on Monday.

Potential Olympic fencers James Honeybone, 21, and Alex O'Connell, 24, competed in full kit and Team GB masks in the middle of a lush, rhododendron-themed garden.

The Queen stood smiling as the athletes fenced with each other and then talked to them.

O'Connell said: "She asked whether it got hot and whether it was hard work.

"She spoke about the flower show and said she had heard that fencing was up and coming.

"She also said for the girls it was quite a ladylike sport and made a little fencing gesture with her hand."

The Queen was applauded by hundreds of well-wishers on her arrival at the show, which she has been attending for more than 60 years.

The Queen arrived at the show, which is the highlight in the horticultural calendar, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Other royal visitors included the Duke of York, who arrived at the wheel of a racing green Range Rover, the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The Queen was presented with a brooch by Royal Horticultural Society president Elizabeth Banks.

The brooch, worth £40,000, was created in the shape of an iris and contained 60 sapphires marking the Queen's 60 years on the throne, 15 diamonds, 20 amethysts and 30 tourmelines.

At the heart of the recycled white gold piece is a large yellow diamond.

"It took about four weeks to make," said designer Kristjan Eyjolfsson, 32.

"I was absolutely honoured to be asked to do this. I would have been proud to have such an accomplishment when I'm 60 so this is very special.

"As a craftsman and designer, I really pushed myself to make this for her."

The Queen, dressed in a lilac crepe coat and floral dress by Stewart Parvin, enjoyed the sights and sounds of the popular annual show a day before it opens to the public.

Among the highlights which seemed to please her were three floral corgis installed at the edge of a Diamond Jubilee Garden.

The dogs came with a bowl, bone and play ball all made from bronze and double white chrysanthemums and stallions.

There are more than 500 exhibitors at the event, displaying show gardens, courtyards, educational displays, floristry displays and garden product exhibitions.

Around 157,000 visitors attend the attraction every year.