By Sophie Hirsh. Photos: Getty, Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.
When heads of state from different countries meet, it is a tradition to exchange gifts as a symbol of diplomacy. And since Queen Elizabeth has 65 years of meeting foreign dignitaries under her belt, it's perhaps not surprising that many of the gifts she has received over the decades are now going on display in a new exhibit at Buckingham Palace called "Royal Gifts."
Situated in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, the 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. "The exhibition 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." Gifts from world leaders (past and present), including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, South African President Nelson Mandela, and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, will be on display.
Among the 250-plus objects on show, five particularly standout gifts will be given the limelight. There's the Vessel of Friendship, a model of the treasure ship sailed by Zheng He, a navigator and diplomat from the Ming Dynasty, that was gifted by China in 2015 and is representative of peace, featuring a dove, an olive branch, and Chinese symbols of peace and friendship. There will also be 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 Salote Tupou of Tonga gave the Queen during her Commonwealth visit in 1953.
"Royal Gifts" will be on display at Buckingham Palace from July 22 (Prince George's birthday, no less) through October 1. Who knows? Maybe the Queen will make an appearance to check out her own impressive loot.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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