Knowing what to give The Queen as a present is one of life’s stranger dilemmas. But a new exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace called Royal Gifts, shows that horses are a go-to solution for foreign dignitaries...

A reign of 64 years gives a lot of leeway for gift-giving and receiving on official visits around the globe. The Royal Gifts exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (22 July-1 October), shows a selection of the presents The Queen has been given during that time, from a choice of over 2000, representing every continent — including an array with an equestrian spin…

1. A Portuguese saddle finished in blue velvet, silver thread brocade and silver was given by President Francisco Craveiro Lopes in 1957

2. Princess Elizabeth on horseback was given by President Arpad Goncz of Hungary in 1999. The first model of this porcelain horse was made in 1937 and was specially reissued in 1999

3. A bronze model of a Lipazzaner horse made by Dragica Čadež, was given to The Queen by the Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Jansa in 2007

4. One of the largest official gifts ever presented to The Queen was this Australian State Coach, given to her in 1988 on an official visit to the country to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of ships from Britain in 1788

5. This imitation quartz, yellow and white metal desk clock was given to The Queen in 2010 by President HH Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates

6. In 2011 President Barack Obama gave these two Liverpool driving bits with the Presidential seal to Prince Philip

7. This bronze model of The Queen’s riding horse Burmese was a gift from the St John Ambulance in 1987, the year after Burmese was retired. Burmese was a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1969, and was ridden to every subsequent Trooping the Colour (where St John Ambulance provide first aid) until retirement 

8. Wansbeck District Council gave Her Majesty this sculpture of a pit pony in 2001

9. This bronze and wood model for the size-and-a-half sculpture of The Queen in Windsor Great Park, by Philip Jackson, was from the Crown Estate Commissioners in 2003

10. Cheshire County Council gave The Queen this silver presentation box with an enamel lid by Lowe & Sons, depicting The Queen’s racehorse Aureole (1950-75) in 1957

11. France’s President François Hollande gave this porcelain sculpture in 2014

As well as these gifts, The Queen has received her fair share of horses over the years, from polo ponies to Lipizzaners:

1953 – Arab stallion from King Faisal of Iraq, to commemorate the Coronation.

1953 – Arab stallion Alhehal (Crescent Moon) and Arab mare Al Masouda (The Lucky One) from the Imam of Yemen, to commemorate the Coronation.

1953 – Two polo ponies from President Perón of Argentina, to commemorate the Coronation.

1956 – Akhel-Teke golden dun stallion Mele-Kush (Dun Bird) from Chairman Bulganin and General Secretary Krushchev of the Soviet Union. They also presented Prince Charles with a Karabakh golden dun stallion Zaman and Princess Anne with a three-month-old bear Nikki, who was housed at ZSL London Zoo.

1957 – Lipizzaner stallion Buçaco from the Government of Portugal, along with a saddle, headcollar, bridle and martingale from President Lopes of Portugal.

1959 – Two polo ponies and a thoroughbred bay gelding Sultan from General Ayub Khan of Pakistan.

1969 – Black mare Burmese (pictured top) from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Burmese carried The Queen to Trooping the Colour between 1969 and 1986. She otherwise served as a Metropolitan Police horse.

1969 – Two Haflinger ponies from President Jonas of Austria, sent to Balmoral Castle.

1973 – Black gelding Centennial from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Centennial was used as a riding horse, including by President Reagan of the United States during his official visit to the United Kingdom in 1982. He otherwise serveed as a Metropolitan Police Horse.

1977 – Bay filly Australia Fair from the government and people of Australia, born in 1977 to commemorate The Queen’s Silver Jubilee and presented to her in 1980 during an official visit to Australia. She was sent to Sandringham.

1978 – One Oldenburg horse and one Holsteiner from President Walter Scheel of the Federal Republic of Germany during The Queen’s state visit to Germany.

1979 – Danish horse from the Agricultural Council of Denmark, Copenhagen during The Queen’s State Visit to Denmark.

1980 – Thoroughbred bay filly Asnoura from King Hassan of Morocco during The Queen’s State Visit to Morocco, sent to Sandringham.

1982 – Bay gelding Valentine from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands during her State Visit to the United Kingdom.

1983 – Swedish Warmblood horse from the Swedish Warmblood Society during The Queen’s State Visit to Sweden.

1998 – Black gelding James from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, used as a riding horse.

2008 – Lippizaner grey stallion Favory Canissa XXII from President of Slovenia during The Queen’s State Visit to Slovenia.

2009 – Black gelding George from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the RCMP Long Service Medal, which was approved by King George V, after whom he is named.

2012 – Black mare Elizabeth from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to commemorate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She is named for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

2016 – Black gelding Sir John from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to commemorate The Queen’s 90th Birthday. He is named for Sir John MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.

The Royal Gifts exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace runs until Sunday 1 October

Tickets cost £23 for adults

Visit royalcollection.org.uk for more information

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