Gifts to Bri­tain’s Queen Eliz­a­beth II go on display

Muscat Daily - - FEATURES -

Bri­tain’s Queen Eliz­a­beth II is putting gifts re­ceived from world lead­ers on display at Buck­ing­ham Palace, with the eclec­tic collection in­clud­ing presents from the likes of Nel­son Man­dela and John F Kennedy.

A re­mark­able ar­ray of over 200 gifts will go on display from Satur­day, pro­vid­ing an in­trigu­ing re­minder of the glo­be­trot­ting lifestyle and in­ter­na­tional en­coun­ters of the 91 year old sovereign.

“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.

Since her ac­ces­sion to the throne in 1952, Eliz­a­beth has trav­elled more than one mil­lion miles around the world and taken part in 89 state vis­its


At the same time, she has wel­comed more than 100 lead­ers to Bri­tain for for­mal state vis­its.

Signed by Kennedy

“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,” ex­plains Good­sir.

Although hugely di­verse, these sym­bols of friend­ship have of­ten in­volved an ex­change of signed pho­to­graphs.

These in­clude one from US Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy in 1961, who along with his wife Jackie was in­vited to dine at Buck­ing­ham Palace while on an un­of­fi­cial visit to Lon­don.

The gifts on display also in­clude a hand­writ­ten note of Kennedy’s “high es­teem” for his royal host.

Thirty-five years later, the queen met with an­other great fig­ure of the 20th cen­tury when she wel­comed Nel­son Man­dela for a state visit. The then South African pres­i­dent of­fered the monarch a silk scarf de­pict­ing bush­men hunt­ing a herd of eland in his coun­try’s East­ern Cape re­gion.

Next to the scarf stands a sur­pris­ing por­trait of Eliz­a­beth, cre­ated by weav­ing dyed ba­nana leaves to­gether, which was given by Rwanda’s pres­i­dent Paul Kagame in 2006.

Kan­ga­roos and horses

Be­low the ma­jes­tic chan­de­liers of Buck­ing­ham Palace’s ball- room gifts from Asia are on display, in­clud­ing a lac­quer box with the im­age of a heron worked in sil­ver on the lid.

It was a present from Ja­pan’s Em­peror Showa to Eliz­a­beth for her coro­na­tion in 1953.

“Em­peror Showa’s sub­se­quent state visit to the UK in the 1970s was the first time a Ja­panese em­peror had left Ja­pan to pay a visit to any coun­try out­side,” says Good­sir.

The queen has also re­ceived a num­ber of liv­ing an­i­mals - a crocodile from the Gam­bia in 1961, an ele­phant from Cameroon in 1972, and six Aus­tralian kan­ga­roos in 1977 - all of which have found homes in Lon­don zoo.

Around 20 horses have also been given, as well as a porce­lain one from French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande which was pre­sented dur­ing Eliz­a­beth’s state visit to France in 2014.

The gift which made the long­est jour­ney be­fore end­ing up in Buck­ing­ham Palace was pre­sented by Tim Peake, the first Bri­tish as­tro­naut to carry out a space walk from the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion.

Peake wore a Bri­tish flag badge dur­ing the space walk in 2016 and gave it to the monarch ear­lier this year.

Also on display, in a trib­ute to Princess Di­ana to mark the 20th an­niver­sary since her death, are a num­ber of her per­sonal items in­clud­ing a brief­case and bal­let shoes.

Di­ana, the first wife of Bri­tain’s heir to the throne Prince Charles, died in a Paris car crash on Au­gust, 31, 1997.

Queen Eliz­a­beth II

Gifts pre­sented to Queen Eliz­a­beth on display

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