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The History of Royal Wedding Gifts

The tradition goes back as far as Ancient Greece

Victorian diamond riviere necklace hatton garden
Victorian diamond riviere necklace, circa 1850.
Ref: 26581

In less than two weeks’ time, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry. Although the couple have mentioned that they wish to receive charity donations as their wedding gifts, we still wonder what kind of personal presents they will receive from other members of the royal family.


­The tradition of giving a wedding present goes back as far as Ancient Greece. A ‘dowry’ would have been given to the groom by the bride’s family, as it was supposed to cover the expenses of the newlyweds. In Roman aristocratic society, it gradually became an essential for the bride’s family to provide an enormous amount of money, luxury goods and precious jewellery as a wedding dowry.


Historically, royal wedding presents have always been lavish and involved plenty of glitter. Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Louise received the famous ‘majestic Fife tiara’ in 1889, which was commissioned by her husband, the Duke of Fife, featuring 300 carats of diamonds as an impressive wedding gift to the bride.


In 1947, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip received a large number of gifts for their wedding - about 2500 wedding presents, which included an impressive diamond tiara, sapphire jewellery as well as 131 pairs of nylons, 38 handbags, 24 pairs of gloves!


Princess Diana and Prince Charles also famously received a remarkable objet d'art- a £1 million model of an Arab boat covered with precious gemstones, as well as 6000 presents from the public.


It is believed that the couple will still receive generous gifts from the Queen and other members of the royal family this Spring. The nature of royal wedding gifts has changed dramatically with Prince William and Kate Middleton listing 26 charities for donations instead of receiving wedding presents. This new tradition will be continued for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding this year.


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front view diamond natural pearl brooch hatton garden berganza
Edwardian natural pearl and diamond pendant/brooch, circa 1905.
Ref: 25429
Antique diamond necklace berganza hatton garden
Antique diamond necklace, circa 1880.
Ref: 24211
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Updated 20/07/2024 at 2:17PM

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