The Green Park had a humble start but soon became a royal favourite. In 1660, it was no more than the missing link in a chain of parks that stretched from Westminster in the east to Kensington in the West. At this time, England had a new King, Charles II. He wanted to be able to walk all the way from Hyde Park to St James's without leaving royal soil. So he acquired land between the two established parks, put a brick wall around it and called it Upper St James's Park.
The King was very fond of his new park and used it to entertain visitors. He built one of the first ice houses in Britain here so that in summer he could give his guests cold drinks. The park was also where the King went for his daily walk or "constitutional". And this explains how Constitution Hill got its name.
In 1746, Upper St James 's was officially renamed The Green Park. We don't know the exact reason for the new name. It may be because, at the time, the park was an open meadow with few trees. Or it may date back to a tale about King Charles II and his wife. Apparently, she discovered that Charles had picked flowers in the park and given them to another woman. In revenge, the Queen ordered that every single flower in the park should be pulled up and no more planted. True or not, there are still no formal flowerbeds in The Green Park.
In the 18th century, The Green Park became a favourite place for Queen Caroline, the wife of George II. She built a reservoir called the Queen's Basin to provide water to St James's Palace. She also built a library and the Queen's Walk, which became a fashionable path to the reservoir.
The Green Park was used for a national party in 1746 to celebrate the end of the War of Hanoverian Succession. The royal family arranged a great firework display and commissioned the composer, Handel, to write his Music for the Royal Fireworks. A vast Temple of Peace was built in the park to store the fireworks. But early on a stray rocket hit the temple. Three people died and 10,000 fireworks were destroyed in the fire that followed.
In 1814 there was another party in the park, this time to celebrate100 years of the Hanoverian royal family. Another temple was built in the park and again it burnt down during the event.
In the 1820s, John Nash re-landscaped the park as part of alterations to St James 's Park. Trees were planted for the first time. Constitution Hill was straightened to make a processional route into the Mall outside Buckingham Palace . The Wellington Arch was built at the other end of Constitution Hill to mark the point where Green Park ended and Hyde Park began. Inside the park, buildings gradually disappeared. Queen Victoria filled in the Queen's Basin and by 1855 all the buildings had been demolished.
More recently, the park has become a place to remember people who served in the two world wars. The memorial to Canadian soldiers was added in 1994. And in 2002, the Queen inaugurated a war memorial next to Constitution Hill, dedicated to five million servicemen from the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa and the Caribbean.