OK, they aren’t all weird, but some of them are rather strange, overly extravagant (but beautiful) and look like they’ve come straight out of our nightmares…
The Queen celebrated her 91st birthday last week (congrats Your Maj.) so it’s no surprise that there has been a lot of fuss in England as of late. With birthdays come lots of gifts, particularly from other heads of state – they represent not only a kind gesture but also act as a symbol of political diplomacy. Since the Queen has spent the last 65 years receiving gifts from all sorts of foreign dignitaries (that’s an awful lot of handshakes) you can only imagine that she has amassed quite the cabinet of curiosities, all of which will be on display at a new exhibit at Buckingham Palace this summer.
Entitled Royal Gifts, the fabulous show will feature a ‘selection from the more than 250 objects from some 100 countries and territories,’ according to a statement on the royal collection’s website. Curators of the exhibition explain that it ‘will explore Her Majesty’s role as Head of State, Head of the Commonwealth and Head of Nation, and includes gifts given during State Visits, overseas tours and official engagements and those presented to mark significant moments in The Queen’s life.’
All will be shown in the Palace’s State Rooms, which are accessible to the public every summer. Gifts on display include those from former South African President Nelson Mandela, American President Dwight D. Eisenhower and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China.
So what to expect? There’s the Vessel of Friendship (pictured above), an exact model of the famous treasure ship navigated by Chinese explorer Zheng He. A pair of chairs from Nigeria known as the Yoruba throne, which were presented to Her Majesty in 1965; a totem pole depicting the thunderbird that Canada presented to the Queen in 1971; a silver bowl containing models of fruit, presented by President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia at the Commonwealth Head of Government’s meeting in 1991; and coconut baskets that Queen Sālote Tupou of Tonga gave the Queen during her Commonwealth visit to the island nation in 1953.
‘Royal Gifts’ will be on display at Buckingham Palace from July 22 to October 1. Tickets can be booked here.
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