Exhibitions in Britain: “Royal Gifts” to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London
Travelling from far and wide, Britain’s reigning monarch has acquired an eclectic collection of presents
Having travelled around the world for most of her life, Queen Elizabeth II is bound to have a treasure trove of gifts from various heads of state. We reckon that most of these gifts have a lovely or interesting story behind them so rather than to hide them away in a room, Buckingham Palace has decided to display 200 of them for the public to enjoy in a new exhibition called “Royal Gifts”.
Having travelled over one million miles and since 1952, Britain’s longest reigning monarch has been a part of 89 state visits abroad and played host to over 100 world leaders on formal visits to the country. “One of the most universal aspects of the Queen’s meetings with other heads of state, both at home and abroad, is the exchange of gifts,” said Sally Goodsir, assistant curator of the new “Royal Gifts” exhibition. She added that “The exchange is a gesture of goodwill and these gifts are representative of traditional skills or of cultural significance and speak of a nation of culture’s history and traditions.”
Some significant pieces that are on display include signed photographs from former world leaders such as John F. Kennedy who along with his wife Jackie was invited to dine at the palace. Joining the personalised photo is a handwritten note that highlights Kennedy’s “high esteem” for his royal host. Another notable head of state whose gift sits in the exhibition is a silk scarf from then South African president Nelson Mandela. The scarf features bushmen hunting a herd of eland in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region.
While the items on display are certainly of interest, the Queen has also received living animals which have found homes in the London Zoo. For example, a crocodile from Gambia in 1961, and elephant from Cameroon in 1972 and six Australian kangaroos in 1977. From French President Francois Hollande, the Queen also received 20 horses that were presented to her during a state visit to France in 2014.