When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – chose to break tradition and have all of their wedding gifts be charitable donations, all of the long-held custom gifts that world leaders usually give for royal weddings went out the window.
The traditional bowl that the US send for big royal weddings? Consider it tradition no more, as the Donald Trump has followed suit from many other world leaders and chosen to follow the couple’s wish to donate to charity. However, there are a few that have gone off list.
The original request for charitable donations outlined that six charities would be included. First was the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), Crisis – the national charity for homeless people-, then Myna Mahila Foundation which supports women in Mumbai’s poorest areas and Scotty’s Little Soldiers- a charity for bereaved Armed Forces children.
Also, on the list were Street Games which uses sport to help young people improve their lives and communities, Surfers Against Sewage- a national marine conservation charity- and the Wilderness Foundation UK which promotes the benefits of wild nature.
While many world leaders have chosen to donate to one of the six causes, some have gone the more traditional route with household appliances while others have named animals after them in commemoration…
One of the most off-book gifts was from the Prince and Princess of Lesotho, who attended the wedding on Saturday, and met Harry when he travelled to the Southern African country in 2004. They reportedly planned to give Harry and Meghan custom Wonderbags, a non-electric, portable slow cooker invented in South Africa. It was built to allow women and children more free time to gain education or employment, while also addressing fuel shortages and deforestation concerns.
The couple are said to also receive an open invitation to see the Wonderbags being used in Lesotho, something they’re likely to take up as they continue to travel the world doing humanitarian work.
Jacinda Ardern decided to follow Meghan and Harry’s wishes, but went rogue on the charity choice. She told reporters that they would donate NZD 5,000 to Pillars, a charity that supports the children of prisoners, a timely gift as it celebrated its 30th anniversary just last weekend.
Acknowledging that the charity wasn’t on the list Meghan and Harry specified, Ardern told the press they were happy to have their wedding acknowledged by the donation, saying ‘the couple are both very interested in initiatives that support vulnerable children and young people.’
Going even more rogue, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is giving two gifts. One is said to be a charitable donation, while the other was a top secret ‘very Australian’ gift, although Turnbull confirmed it ‘appeals to their interests’. So, what could it be? We may never know, as the official gift is being kept hidden.
However, the government of New South Wales decided to present their own gift to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, naming two koalas after them at Taronga Zoo, near Sydney. Receiving yet another open invitation, the regions leader Premier Gladys Berejiklian told local media Harry and Meghan were welcome to see the koalas next time they visit Australia. Honeymoon, Meg?
Yet another off-book charitable donation, Justin Trudeau decided to donate $50,000 to Jumpstart, a youth charity dedicated to ‘making play and sports more accessible for children from disadvantaged backgrounds’. He said in a press release ‘Since 2005, Jumpstart has helped more than 1.6 million children of all abilities get out on the field and be part of a team.’
Making a statement as that weird uncle who doesn’t understand how to follow a registry, French President Emmanuel Macron gave the couple a bespoke pen and heritage lighter. The gift is 007-themed, from luxury fashion brand S.T. Dupont and is actually a French tradition.
The same brand created a bespoke travel case for Queen Elizabeth when she married Prince Philip in 1947, gifted by former president Vincent Auriol. Then, in 2011, Nicholas Sarkozy also gave Prince William and Kate Middleton a travel case by the brand for their wedding.
Surprisingly, the only world leader to stick to the gift list was Donald Trump. While House spokesperson Lindsay Walters told press that he and Melania Trump would make a donation to one of the chosen charities, although did not specify an amount.
It’s a break away from the traditional bowl gift that the USA normally gives to royal couples. Previously, Harry Truman gave Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip a Steuben ‘Merry-Go-Round Bowl’, while Ronald and Nancy Reagan gave Princess Diana and Prince Charles an engraved bowl by the same brand, worth $75,000 (although reports suggest Nancy haggled the price down to $8,000- a Queen of bargain hunting if you will
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Earl Spencer and Lady Karen Spencer
Prince Harry's uncle - and Princess Diana's younger brother, with his wife, Lady Karen Spencer.