The Strangest Gifts Queen Elizabeth Has Ever Received

Among British monarchs, not only has Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ruled for longest, but it's also likely she's the recipient of the most gifts. Considering she writes a thank you note for each one, just try imagining what she might have said about these.

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Buckingham Palace Royal Wedding Exhibition opening, London, Britain - 27 Jul 2007
Photo: Jonathan Hordle/Shutterstock

Handspun lace

Then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip received over 2,500 presents from people and organizations all over the world in celebration of their November 20, 1947 wedding. One of the more well-known of these gifts is a piece of cotton lace that Mahatma Gandhi had spun himself and embroidered with the words, “Jai Hind” (“Victory for India,” because India had just weeks earlier won its independence from the British Commonwealth). Pamela Hicks, a longtime friend of Elizabeth and the daughter of Lord Mountbatten (Philip’s uncle and later Prince Charles’s trusted mentor) wrote at the time that it was Mountbatten who had given Gandhi the idea. Yet that didn’t stop Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, from finding it “indelicate” when she first misinterpreted it as a loincloth! Misunderstandings aside, the gift was extraordinarily meaningful to the newlyweds and in 2018, Queen Elizabeth honoured Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to the United Kingdom by giving it to him.

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Gemma Entwhistle Inventory Clerk For The Royal Collection Moves A Grasshopper Shaped Wine-bottle Cooler In To Position At Buckingham Palace London Friday 26 April 2002. The Gift To The Queen And Duke Of Edinburgh By President And Mrs Pompidou In 1972
Photo: Glenn Copus/Evening Standard/Shutterstock

The wine enthusiast’s version of a “transformer”

In 1972, President Georges Pompidou of France presented Queen Elizabeth II with a most unusual gift: a brass and steel wine cooler shaped like a grasshopper that transforms into a drinks table when its wings are rotated. This, along with around 200 other noteworthy gifts received by Queen Elizabeth over the years, was exhibited in 2002 in connection with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Don’t miss these other fascinating facts about Queen Elizabeth.

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Queen Elizabeth II retrospective
Photo: Reginald Davis/Shutterstock

Millions of dollars worth of swag from the Persian Gulf

During the Queen’s 18-day good-will visit to the Persian Gulf in 1979, she and Prince Philip were showered with millions upon millions of dollars worth of gifts by their Arab hosts, according to an article in the New York Times. Among them, a pear-shaped pearl set in a natural oyster, a silver model of an Arab sailboat, an 18-inch tall solid gold palm tree studded with pearls, an amethyst-studded gold tray, a gold coffee jug in the shape of a falcon whose talons were made from amethysts, and three bejeweled gold swords (intended specifically for Prince Philip).

You won’t believe the gifts Prince Charles and Princess Diana received at their wedding!

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Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Obama
Photo: Shutterstock

A sweet gift from Michelle Obama

A list of official gifts received by Queen Elizabeth in 2015 included a gift box from the former First Lady of the United States that contained:

  • lemon verbena tea
  • a candle
  • two small pots of honey
  • and a jar of honey butter—homemade from the White House kitchen garden
  • a Tiffany & Co. silver “honeycomb and bee bud vase.”

Did you know that the Queen doesn’t have to follow these British laws?

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close up of Salt - studio shot
Photo: Goldnetz/Shutterstock

No such thing as too much salt

Also in 2015, the governor of the British Virgin Islands presented the Queen with a bag filled with salt. This gift was a symbolic throwback to the tradition of the BVI presenting its monarch with a bag of salt as a tax on the production of minerals on Salt Island, one of the islands of the BVI. Queen Elizabeth also received this gift from “the people of the BVI” in 2016 in honour of her 90th birthday.

Here’s why the Queen has two birthdays.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attend church in Sandringham, Norfolk, Britain - 22 Dec 2013
Photo: Andrew Parsons/Shutterstock

Love her, love her dogs

Also for her 90th birthday, Her Majesty was gifted four dog jackets intended for her beloved corgis and dorgis from the Royal Borough of Windsor. Each jacket featured the coat of arms of the Borough embroidered on the back.

Here’s why Queen Elizabeth has owned so many corgis.

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black charcoal carbon soap on black background with soap bublles foam
Photo: Lumi Studio/Shutterstock

More dog swag

Since the Queen is known for her love of dogs, it’s not surprising she’s received plenty of gifts either for or relating to her beloved canine companions. One such gift, from the British public in 2012, was a knitted tea cozy depicting Her Majesty with her beloved corgis. Also in 2012, she received a crown-shaped dog bed from Tuffies Dog Beds, a company in Scotland. Years earlier, in 2000, she was given a bar of Tilley’s “Timid Joe” dog soap while on a trip to an old mining town in Australia. The soap, which is known for its ability to “kill fleas and other vermin” had a £40 price tag.

Discover the surprisingly frugal habits of the royal family.

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Photo: Peter Brooker/Shutterstock

A model of her first-born son with “Postman Pat”

In 2016, in honour of her 90th birthday, the Kingdom of Jordan gave Her Majesty a ceramic figure of Prince Charles alongside the cartoon character, Postman Pat (the animated series by the same name, concerning the adventures of a fictional postman from a fictional English village, is intended for preschoolers).

Here’s what will happen when Prince Charles becomes king.

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Queen Elizabeth II State Visit to Germany - 24 Jun 2015
Photo: Shutterstock

A horse of a “different” colour

In 2015, the President of Germany, Joachin Gauck, gave the Queen an acrylic painting by artist Nicole Leidenfrost depicting Her Majesty as a young girl sitting atop a horse and attended to by her father. The impressionistic painting depicts the horse as mostly blue, with some dabbings of yellows, pinks, and greens. “It’s a strange colour for a horse,” Business Insider claims the Queen exclaimed, along with, “That’s supposed to be my father, is it?”

Check out these rarely seen photos of Queen Elizabeth with her father.

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Audience at Buckingham Palace, London, UK - 19 Oct 2016
Photo: Shutterstock

The statue of the great Canadian who was a soldier, a doctor, and a poet

This one’s not strange at all—in fact, it’s quite a moving tribute to a great Canadian. In October 2016, Brigadier General James Selbie (Colonel Commandant, Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery) presented the Queen with a statuette of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872 to 1918), who was not only a soldier and a physician, but also a poet and the author of the tragic, evocative wartime poem, “In Flanders Fields” (“In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row…”). The statuette depicts McCrae writing his poem and was a small model of the one erected in Ottawa in May 2016.

Take a look back at the most memorable royal tours of Canada.

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Elephant in Central Africa
Photo: mstarling/Shutterstock

A number of animals

Over the years, Queen Elizabeth has received a veritable menagerie of animals as gifts, including an elephant, a crocodile, and these other rather strange and quirky exotic animals. In addition, Her Majesty was given, by the Duke of Bedford, a pair of young red deer stags from Woburn Abbey Deer Park, and a horse by the name of Sir John, by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Here’s what The Crown gets wrong about the royal family.

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Horse Racing - 24 Jun 2015
Photo: Pat Healy/Racing Fotos/Shutterstock

The possibility of a horse

Someday, one of the Queen’s royal mares may have a foal by the stallion, Big Bad Bob, owned by racehorse-breeder Christina Patino of Ireland, except the mare and the stallion will never even have to meet. That’s because Patino gave the Queen, who was visiting Ireland in 2011, $8,615 worth of Big Bad Bob’s semen.

Find out the ordinary things Queen Elizabeth II has never done (that we all take for granted).

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Pair of new classic leather brown cowboy boots on wooden boards. Macro shooting
Photo: FedotovAnatoly/Shutterstock

These boots were made for walking

Queen Elizabeth is a woman who loves horses, but whether she’s ever walked around in a pair of cowboy boots is up for debate. But that’s not to say she hasn’t had the option. In 1991 on a visit to the United States, Her Majesty was gifted with a pair of authentic cowboy boots.

Don’t miss these vintage photos of Elizabeth before she became Queen.

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Britain Queen in Cabinet
Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/Shutterstock

Queen Elizabeth Land

For the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 (celebrating 50 years on the throne), a chain of beacons was lit across the world beginning as far north as 300 miles from the North Pole, and as far south as Antarctica. How to top that? For her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (celebrating 60 years on the throne), for which she received over 120,000 gifts, a 437,708 square kilometre part of Antarctica was named after her. “Queen Elizabeth Land” is nearly twice the size of the United Kingdom.

Next, take a look back at Queen Elizabeth’s incredible life in 30 quotes.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest