Golden Jubilee Year's Buckingham Palace Summer Opening to Mark 50 Years of State Visits

Release date: 
Saturday, 1 June 2002

During the 50 years of her reign, The Queen has travelled further than any monarch in history, circling the globe several times.  Accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty has made 76 State Visits abroad and 149 visits to Commonwealth countries.  During the same period she has received 75 foreign Heads of State on visits to this country.  To mark the important principle of friendship that underlies such occasions, an exchange of gifts is always made.  At the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (5 August - 29 September) over 200 State gifts will be brought together for a special exhibition in the magnificent Ball Supper Room, open in its entirety for the first time.

Among the gifts to be displayed at Buckingham Palace will be a carved ebony model of the Toran Gate in Ahmedabad, presented by the Governor of the State of Gujarat in 1961 during The Queen's visit to India; a steel, brass and Sèvres porcelain wine-bottle cooler in the form of a giant grasshopper, presented by President Pompidou of France in 1972; a model of an outrigger canoe presented by the Local Council of the Island of San Cristobal on behalf of the Solomon Islanders in 1974; brass and enamel coffee pots presented to The Queen by the Indian High Commissioner in 1991; and an embroidered silk scarf given to The Queen by President Mandela during her visit to South Africa in 1995.

In  addition  to  gifts  from  Heads  of  State,  the  exhibition  at  Buckingham  Palace will  include  many  presents  from  individuals  and  organisations  encountered  by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh during the course of their travels overseas.  Among these is a drawing by Salvador Dali, given to The Duke of Edinburgh by the artist himself in 1972.

As was the case in the past, by no means all of the gifts to The Queen take the form of works of art.  Many constitute a memento of the visits themselves or are an example of traditional produce or local manufacturing.  The Queen has thus received lacrosse sticks, sunglasses, a pair of sandals, pineapples, two-and-a-half  dozen  eggs,  a  box  of  snail  shells,  a  grove  of  maple  trees,  a  dozen  tins of  tuna,  7 kg  of  prawns,  and  numerous  recordings  of  music  or  speeches, while  The  Duke  of  Edinburgh  has  been  presented  with  mineral samples, scientific instruments and a computer (by President Reagan).

One long tradition that has continued into the present reign, but cannot of course be represented in the exhibition, is the giving of live animals.  Henry VIII presented hounds to Emperor Charles V of Spain, a cheetah was sent from India to George III in 1764, and George IV received a giraffe from Mehmet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, in 1827.  Over the past 50 years The Queen has been presented with many horses from around the world.  Other such gifts have been placed in the care of London Zoo, among them a canary from Germany (1965) jaguars and sloths from Brazil (1968), two black beavers from Canada (1970), two young giant turtles from the Seychelles and an elephant called Jumbo from the Cameroon (1972), two more sloths, an armadillo and an anteater from Brazil (1976), and a baby crocodile presented to the infant Prince Andrew in 1961 by the People of Berending in the Gambia.

The Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace is from 5 August to 29 September 2002 (timed tickets 09.30 - 16.30, last admission 16.15). Admission to the Palace and exhibition: Adult £11.50,  Over 60 £9.50,  Under 17  £6.00,  Family Ticket  (2  adults, 2 under 17) £29.00, Under 5 free.

Advance tickets  are  available  from  or  through  the  credit-card  line 020-7321 2233. The Ticket Office in Green Park is open 09.00 - 16.00, 27 July to 29 September, for advance and on-the-day sales.

Further information is available from Public Relations and Marketing, The Royal Collection, telephone: 020-7839 1377, fax: 020-7839 8168,, Website: Images are available from the Royal Collection's folder in the Arts section
on PA's Picselect at or through the PA bulletin board.

Notes to Editors

1. The exchange of gifts between rulers is an ancient custom, and in the history of the British Monarchy there have been some famous instances.  Henry VIII and Francis I of France exchanged gifts at their meeting at the Field of Cloth of Gold in Northern France in 1520, as did James I and the Emperor of Japan in 1613, and George III and the Emperor of China in 1792-3.

2. The Queen has received over 1,500 State gifts.  Many of those that are intended for display are on show in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Sandringham and the Former Royal Yacht Britannia, all of which are open to the public.  The selection of gifts on display is often changed.  Most of the ethnographical material is placed on long-term loan to the British Museum or the Commonwealth Institute, where it is used for educational projects.

3. The Ball Supper Room, one of Buckingham Palace's 19 State Rooms, was built in 1855 to the designs of Sir James Pennethorne in order to provide dining accommodation for those attending balls and concerts in the Ballroom, which was added at the same time.

4. Monies raised from admissions to Buckingham Palace are dedicated to the conservation, display and interpretation of the Royal Collection.  Major projects funded in this way include the creation of the new Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, to increase exhibition space and provide new education facilities.  The Royal Collection is held in trust by The Queen as Sovereign for her successors and for the Nation, and is administered by the Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity.