Having undertaken more than 250 overseas visits during her reign, there's little wonder that the Queen has received thousands of gifts. And now a special exhibition at Buckingham Palace will put the spotlight on a few hundred of those mementos. The Royal Gifts exhibition will form part of this year's Summer Opening of the State Rooms at the palace, from July to October.
More than 250 objects from 100 countries and territories will be displayed, including gifts given during state visits, overseas tours and official engagements. The custom of receiving and giving gifts is a symbol of goodwill between two countries. When President Xi Jinping of China visited Buckingham Palace in October 2015, he brought the Vessel of Friendship, a model of the 'treasure ship' sailed by the 15th-century Chinese navigator and diplomat Zeng He. The ship is decorated with a dove, an olive branch medallion and traditional Chinese symbols of friendship and peace.
Another item on display will be the wooden totem pole the Queen was given in 1971 during a visit to Canada. Standing at 78 centimetres high, the pole is topped by the mythical thunderbird with outstretched wings, and was carved by the Kwakiutl people of Canada's north-west coast.
Other gifts that the Queen receives are often examples of local craftsmanship and artistic traditions, such as the colourful beaded Yoruba throne presented to Her Majesty by the people of Nigeria in 1956. The monarch and her husband Prince Philip were also gifted a pair of baskets woven from coconut leaves from Queen Sālote Tupou III of Tonga in 1953 during their seven-month Commonwealth Tour. The baskets are examples of a creative industry that Queen Sālote had re-established on the island.
And closer to home, the Royal Gifts exhibition will also include over 100 items the Queen has received during engagements in the UK.
For more information and tickets, visit royalcollection.org.uk.