Among the gifts received by Queen Elizabeth II last year were two new pieces of artwork from the family of Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira, whose granddaughter Lenie Namatjira (second from left) was at the presentation at Buckingham Palace in London on Nov 27, with Deputy Australian High Commissioner Andrew Todd (left). Present is Prince Philip (right). – AFP
Beetles, brochures and baseball caps on British royal gift list last year.
ORNATE jewellery, a garden gnome, a replica royal coach made from chocolate, a falconry glove and an Oyster tube travel card. If anything, the breadth and sometimes eccentricity of gifts received by members of the British royal household last year hints that more than a few hosts and visitors struggled for ideas of what to give the family that has it all.
In the case of Queen Elizabeth II, at least, most heads of state and other dignitaries appear to have fallen back on the safe option: bling. When Sheikh Khalifa Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates, arrived for a state visit last April, for example, he brought for his host a gold jewelled frame set on a jewelled ostrich egg. Four enamelled scarab beetles were the choice of the Bangladeshi high commissioner.
Slightly more unusual was the a chocolate version of Windsor Castle and an edible replica of the royal family’s Irish state coach, which she received at the end of a royal visit to the Mars confectionary headquarters in Slough, Berkshire.
Tucked away somewhere in the royal wallet is a commemorative Oyster card presented to the Queen during a visit to Baker Street tube station on the 150th anniversary of London Underground last March, although it remains unclear whether she has ever used it to swipe in at Green Park station, a short stroll from Buckingham Palace.
A highlight for Prince Charles may well have been the ceramic figurine and “framed animation” of him with the cartoon character Postman Pat, which was presented by a Jordanian digital content producer. Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall also came away from their visit to Gulf states and Saudi Arabia in March with numerous boxes of toiletries and books.
From Saudi Arabia’s high commission for the development of Riyadh, Charles received “21 brochures, seven DVDs and four books”. In future, as Charles assumes many of the Queen’s formal overseas duties, he might be in line for a slightly higher calibre of gift.
Elsewhere, spare a thought for Prince Harry, who appears to have been pigeonholed as the sports-loving royal. Gifts received during his visit to the United States in May include four baseball caps (the giver is listed as “individual”), polo shirts, T-shirts and rucksacks. The superintendent of the US Air Force academy branched out somewhat by handing Harry a falconry glove – along with a football kitbag, three T-shirts, two pairs of shorts and an American football shirt.
A long list of guidelines and procedures for gifts presented to the British royal family states that organisations and individuals “should be discouraged from offering extravagant gifts”, particularly on official overseas trips. It adds that an official gift is not the personal property of the recipient member of the royal family, although they may use it.
The Duke of York might have counted himself particularly lucky with much of what he received, which was often edible. Gifts included Turkish sweets, a gingerbread cathedral, a box of mangos, macaroons, champagne and tea.
Princess Anne emerged as something of a magnet for some of the more unusual gifts. A visit to Canada scooped her a contemporary art print of her riding a moose, presented by the artist Charles Pachter. Other gifts included a knitted hat with horse’s ears, a gnome, a plastic angel and a book called Your Arms Remind Me Of Pork Luncheon Meat. – Guardian News & Media