The Insanely Elaborate Way the Royal Family Tracks the Gifts They Receive

In most families, gift giving is a simple act of kindness. But, in the royal family, it goes far beyond simplicity. Regardless of who they receive a gift from — whether it be a diplomat, world leader, or charitable organization — the royal family has a very elaborate way of tracking the gifts given to them on royal tours and engagements.

Up ahead, find out what members of the royal family do with all the gifts they receive.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

What do royals do with all the gifts they receive?

Between their world travels and meetings with organizations, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and other members of the royal family receive a lot of gifts. However, these more official gifts aren’t personal property (though they can still use them). According to the royal family’s website, “gifts are defined as official when received during an official engagement or duty or in connection with the official role or duties of a Member of The Royal Family.”

When visiting with presidents, prime ministers, and other important figureheads, members of the royal family often receive elaborate gifts on behalf of the queen and the Royal Collection — aka the family’s museum collection of items gifted to Her Majesty from around the world.

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth | ROTA/Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

No matter how out there a gift may seem, royals graciously accept all gifts from heads of state and politely pass them onto their staff to categorize. Each item is then recorded in an official “Gift Received Form,” which is later made public with details on each item, including the price tag. And, get this: The royal family does not skip a gift — even if it’s a feather, packet of bread sauce, or chocolates.

Once recorded, the royals can consume any perishables and may also gift unwanted items to staff or charity so long as they are worth under $200. Any items unused by royals go into storage. But, the royal family is incredibly frugal and hates to spend unnecessary money on storage space, so a panel of Royal Collection representatives and senior members of the royal family organizes the items annually and gets rid of anything they won’t use in the future.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | CHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images

The options for each gift include keeping gifts in storage, adding it to a Royal Collection exhibit, loaning the gift to an organization, donating the gift to charity, or destroying the gift. However, they destroy gifts in a very discreet manner. “It is a fundamental principle that practice relating to the retention or disposal of official gifts should, under all circumstances, avoid causing offense to others,” the official website notes.

They don’t always accept gifts

In some cases, members of the royal family also decline gifts (and send them back). Given their roles and public lives, the royal family does not allow for any gifts that might make it seem like an endorsement. “The fundamental principle governing the acceptance of gifts by Members of The Royal Family is that no gifts, including hospitality or services, should be accepted which would, or might appear to, place the Member of The Royal Family under any obligation to the donor,” their website states.


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