Fortunately, while it is any loyal subject’s patriotic duty to obey the royal constitution, buying a birthday gift for our much-loved Monarch’s 90th birthday is not obligatory. Having said that, we can’t help thinking Her Majesty might rather like one of our pretty floral Wensley scarves to coordinate with one of the tailored pastel dresses that have become her sartorial trademark? Or perhaps a pair of regally stylish new wellies to wear out and about at Sandringham?
Well, perhaps not. But one can’t help but wonder what gifts our Queen will receive on her big day. In a recent TV documentary, The Duchess of Cambridge described her own present-buying dilemma. Mmmm…what to buy your new royal mother in law, indeed? Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge’s solution was simple (and genius). She gave the Queen some chutney last year, homemade from her granny’s own recipe and her Majesty was, by all accounts, most touched.
Yet not all the gifts bestowed upon our beloved Queen during her 63-year reign have been quite so understated and so wonderfully, reassuringly ordinary. Many of the presents sent, from all over the world, have pushed the boundaries of unusual, while others are just plain strange!
Stranger still was the gift from President Pompidou of France in 1972, who thought it would be un trait de genie to send the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh a wine cooler. No ordinary wine cooler, this one was expertly crafted into the shape of a giant grasshopper. Best of all, if her Royal Highness cared to rotate the wings it transformed into a handy drinks table.
When she visited the Pacific island of Kiribati in 1982, Her Royal Highness was gifted a sword made from razor sharp shark’s teeth and during one visit to Fiji, she was given a whale’s tooth. Not the most practical present but an item apparently much prized in Fijian society.
The list of weird and wonderful gifts goes on. During her reign the Queen has also received numerous lacrosse sticks, sunglasses, a pair of sandals, pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, a dozen tins of tuna and 7kg of prawns.
Arguably among the most bizarre of all, are the many live animals gifted to the royal household. These include several horses from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other more exotic beasts, among them a canary from Germany, jaguars and sloths from Brazil, two black beavers from Canada, two young giant turtles from the Seychelles and an elephant called Jumbo from Cameroon.
Her Majesty no doubt accepted them with her usual grace and charm but they reside at London Zoo, rather than Buckingham Palace. No doubt much to the relief of the royal corgis!
What gifts her upcoming 90th birthday celebration will bring from all corners of the globe remains to be seen but the list will almost certainly make for an interesting read.
In the meantime, a note to all Heads of State…
We sell some rather lovely scarves..?