The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace is upon us and this year the featured exhibition in the State Rooms is a special display of more than 200 State visit gifts presented to Her Majesty The Queen, throughout her 65-year reign. You may wonder how the Queen in her most gracious manner kept a straight face as she accepted yet another wicker fan from Cameroon, gold encrusted model of a camel sitting under a palm tree from Saudi Arabia or a simply unexplainable engraved perspex trophy from Israel, but she did and all were then catalogued and moved to room 101 in the palace basement for safe keeping – until now.
“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,” – Sally Goodsir “Royal Gifts” exhibition.
If anything this exhibition is an enlightening glimpse into how top diplomats have absolutely zero taste when choosing a suitable gift for someone who has everything. There are very few mementos of any real artistic merit. These are things that would certainly never be accepted into the V&A’s permanent collection. On an upshot objects made from Elephant Ivory are nowhere to be seen. Although rumour has it they were ground up and buried in a gesture by Princes Harry and William.
Tasteless examples noted and relegated: A gold Pagoda from Nepal, A golden Model of a Junk from China, a pair of Kitsch porcelain portrait vases from Uzbekistan
Things to keep: A Union Flag badge worn in space by Major Tim Peake CMG, which was presented to The Queen at Windsor Castle in April 2017. A signed photo of JFK, The Queen’s honorary BAFTA Award, A Holocaust memorial candle sculpture from Anish Kapoor.
Her Majesty 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. (Not on display)
Also on exhibition, in a tribute to Princess Diana to mark the 20th anniversary of her death, are a number of her personal items including a briefcase and cassette tape case which includes Elton John, Duran Duran, and Lionel Richie. Diana died in a Paris car crash twenty years ago on August 31, 1997.
Believe it or not, this is well worth a visit!
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