From Crocodiles to Hot Sauce, Here's How the Royal Family Does Gift Giving
Oh, to be a member of the Royal Family: the tiara-wearing, the world travel, the delightful gifts from well-wishers sent from all around the world. But, as is usually the case with most things royal-related, giving and receiving presents is not as simple as it seems.
Sure, the gifts they give each other are usually pretty straightforward gestures of affection, but what about the freebies from top designers, the lavish offerings from overseas royals, the diplomatic tokens from world leaders, and the trinkets from members of the public? Here are the rules of royal gift giving.
GIFTS THE ROYAL FAMILY GIVE EACH OTHER
It’s well-known among royal fans that the Windsor family usually focuses on inexpensive offerings for Christmas—in 2011 Kate made chutney for the Queen—but they do of course also spoil their loved ones with luxurious gifts too.
Elizabeth and Philip on their wedding day in 1947.
Prince Philip gave his bride, the then-Princess Elizabeth, a substantial diamond bracelet on their wedding day, made from stones from one of his mother’s tiaras (the same source as the diamonds for the engagement ring he proposed with.)
Since then, William has gifted Kate with sapphire and diamond earrings from Diana’s jewel box, an eternity ring, a Cartier
Prince Harry has also enjoyed spoiling his sweetheart with
Meghan on her wedding day, wearing Diana's ring.
Royal daughters have also been lavished with jewels over the years. For example, the Queen was given sapphires, rubies, and diamonds by her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on her wedding day. In turn, the Queen gave Princess Diana an heirloom emerald necklace, and the diamond and pearl Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara as wedding gifts, while the Queen Mother gave Diana a huge sapphire brooch which the princess later had set as the
When Kate Middleton married into the Royal Family, her new father-in-law Prince Charles gave her a set of white and yellow diamond Art Deco jewelry comprised of a bracelet, earrings and ring, while Camilla gifted Kate a charm bracelet hung with a disc, which had Camilla’s monogram ‘C’ engraved on one side and Catherine’s on the other.
It was also reported that Harry and Meghan chose
OFFICIAL OFFERINGS FROM PRIME MINISTERS, PRESIDENTS, AND OVERSEAS ROYALS
During meetings between heads of state, gifts are always exchanged as a gesture of goodwill, and these presents are often simple but meaningful pictures or books. On a visit to Ireland in 2017, Prince Charles was given a rare copy of the book Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size. However, gifts can also be more elaborate, such as the replica cavalry
Official gifts are not the personal property of the receiving royal—although they can use them. The items which aren’t used or displayed in their own homes are often exhibited in the Royal Collection—the Royal Family’s museum of treasures—which was founded in 1660 and is open to the public.
Princess Diana wearing the Saudi Sapphire Suite during a tour of Australia in 1983.
The Saudi Royal Family are known for their extravagant gift-giving, bestowing a five-piece suite of sapphire
In the case of the Obamas, who have developed a personal relationship with the Royal Family over the years, gifts have been more heartfelt. When they made a state visit in 2011, they gifted the Queen with a collection of rare memorabilia and photographs in a handmade leather-bound album of her parent’s visit to the US in 1939, while Charles and Camilla received seedlings from Mount Vernon and honey from the White House beehive.
The Obamas with the Queen in 2011.
In return, the Queen gifted the Obamas with a selection of letters from the royal archives to and from past US presidents and British monarchs, and First Lady Michelle Obama was also given an antique gold brooch featuring roses picked out in red coral.
Gone are the days though when the Queen and other members of her family routinely received live animals as gifts. Family members were mostly given horses and the odd cow, but other animals including a bear for Princess Anne from the then-Soviet Union, cockatoos from Australia, beavers from Canada, giant tortoises from
ECLECTIC GIFTS AMASSED ON OVERSEAS TOURS
According to the official website of the Royal Family, “Gifts are defined as official when received during an official engagement or duty or in connection with the official role or duties of a Member of The Royal Family.” These gifts come from dignitaries, people the royals meet on engagements, and members of the crowd, and are often traditional items such as
Prince George receives a toy bilby during the royal tour of Australia in 2014.
Local produce is a popular option. Prince Harry was given hot sauce and rum in the Caribbean, and Prince Charles was gifted with pasta, olive oil, and saffron in Italy. Although not all gifts have geographic relevance—one of Kate’s
Each item is recorded on a "Gift Received Form" and a full list is later disclosed publicly in painstaking detail—from the high price tag items such as a diamond polar bear brooch that Kate was given in Canada to a laminated sonnet, a feather, a packet of bread sauce, or "eight chocolates." These gifts are again not the royal’s private property but are received on behalf of the Queen—although perishables are allowed to be consumed or used, and items of £150 or under are allowed to be given to staff or donated to charity. The gifts are not allowed to be sold.
Prince Charles receives a gift from a Maori warrior in Wellington, New Zealand in 2012.
Any items the royals don’t personally use are usually stored, but to avoid unnecessary storage costs, items are reviewed annually by a panel chaired by a senior member of the Household and a representative of the Royal Collection, and the options for each gift are, according to the official website: “Retaining the gift in storage, incorporating the gift into the Royal Collection, loaning the gift to a reputable and appropriate organization, donating the gift to a registered charity where it is thought that it may be applied to the benefit of others; destroying the gift.”
Guidelines for the destruction of gifts are understandably strict: “It is a fundamental principle that practice relating to the retention or disposal of official gifts should, under all circumstances, avoid causing offence to donors.”
FLOWERS ON OFFICIAL ENGAGEMENTS
Princess Charlotte receives her first bouquet in Berlin, on the royal tour of Germany in 2017.
The most popular item for well-wishers to bestow on members of the Royal Family is a floral offering. From giant cellophane-wrapped bouquets to simple hand-picked posies, the flowers are handed over to the royal party who then pass them back to their private secretaries and personal assistants.
WHICH GIFTS DO THEY HAVE TO GIVE BACK?
On the Royal Family’s official site, it states, “The fundamental principle governing the acceptance of gifts by Members of The Royal Family is that no gifts, including hospitality or services, should be accepted which would, or might appear to, place the Member of The Royal Family under any obligation to the donor.”
So they keep nothing where it might seem like by using it, they are endorsing a product. Family members can keep gifts from: “Government bodies, trade associations, guilds, civic bodies, the armed services, charities, or similar organizations in the
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.