The protocol of re-gifting

Posted on Thursday 2 April 2009

If you haven’t heard, President Obama and the First Lady were at Buckingham Palace yesterday where they met Queen Elizabeth. As is customary with other heads of state, the President brought the Queen a gift. The gifts selected are usually intended to reflect the country which the head of state represents. In his case, President Obama presented the Queen with an IPOD already downloaded with music including a number of songs from Broadway musicals and a video which included footage of her 2007 visit to the United States. The IPOD was also accompanied by a song book for the King and I signed by composer Richard Rodgers.

In the personal opinions of those of us here at The Texas Spur, we think the gift was probably lost on the 83-year-old Queen and most likely went directly to the closet which houses a plethora of other gifts provided by other countries. We wonder if she is as technilogically advanced as she is in maturity? Furthermore we just can’t picture the Queen lying around the palace, ear buds inserted and wires draping her shoulders, jamming to “Oklahoma” while having tea.

So, if the IPOD does land in the gift closet, what is done with all of that stuff the Queen doesn’t want and will never use? Do the butlers, maids and/or ladies in waiting get to choose gifts for themselves from the loot, or, in the case of something like an IPOD, does she give it to Prince Harry or Prince William? (But then they both probably already have an IPOD.) This brings up the ultimate question: Does the Queen re-gift? And, if she does, what is the protocol for selecting and giving away those gifts?

And what about the gift the Queen gave to the Obamas? Her Majesty gave them a silver framed photograph of herself and Prince Phillip, the usual gift for heads of state. Will it turn up inside a similar gift closet at the White House? If the photo is autographed it could be considered for a prominent place in the Obama home or office. Or it could be kept in the treasure trove for the Obama children, and then there is always Ebay, but then that would most likely be considered, in both American and British protocol, a faux pas.

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