As well as the usual tiaras, diamonds and whatnot, Princess Anne received hundreds of gifts from ordinary members of the public. These included novelty handcuffs, some ‘futuristic crayon pictures’, a biro, to mention just a few of the best ones…
I’ve always liked a bloody good list, which is presumably why this particular book came into my possession. It’s a paperback, with a deep blue cover, just over 100 pages, and I cannot recall precisely how I acquired it, at some point in the mid-1980s. Not only is it a fine list, it is also an inadvertent comic masterpoece. The publisher was St James’s Palace and the full title is Marriage of Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips 14 November 1973 : List of Wedding Presents.
In fact the book contains two lists, the “Royal Presents”, in order of the rank of the giver, from The Queen down to Prince and Princess Georg of Denmark, and the much longer “General List of Presents”, in no discernible order, listing 1,404 gifts from non-royal hoi polloi, everyone from the Soviet ambassador to the Bishop of Bristol to those semi-mythical figures, ordinary members of the public.
The Royal list is a treasure chest crammed with gold and silver, rubies and diamonds, tiaras and brooches, antique furnishings and jewel-encrusted gewgaws, though even here it’s pleasing to find a garden hammock (Princess Michael of Kent), two waste-paper bins (Colonel Sir Henry and The Lady May Abel Smith), and eight dozen coat hangers (Her Royal Highness Princess Margaretha and Mr John Ambler). It is in the general list, however, that the real treasures are to be found. Here is a selection:
11. Mr and Mrs Nicholas Kendal. Duster.
25. Percy Edwards Tea strainer.
50. Pat J Aylward. Picture of man in bowler hat.
59. Mrs Peggy Haydon. Apron and headband.
64. Mrs Gerald Snow Noyes. Futuristic crayon pictures.
89. Miss J P Ayling. Small purse containing rain hat.
97. Gerry Atkins. Tape of a hymn.
100. Tadeusz Rogala. Book, Sewers Of Warsaw.
116. Frau Lili Thenn. Four knitted coat hangers.
118. Pierre. Austrian costume.
124. Miss Julie Wakefield. Pink plastic ring.
133. Anonymous. Biro.
137. Miss Alexandra Griffin. 1p coin in plastic case.
173. Miss Sharon. Book, Palace Of Dreams – Poetry By Sharon.
179. Mrs E Gott. Nine 2p stamps.
204. Miss Fiona Barr. Two swizzle sticks.
236. Mr Christopher Dodson. A design of wild horses made by the donor from aluminium pellets.
281. Mrs Phillips and Mrs Bent. Nine dischcloths.
282. Miss May Emily Wells. Two small plastic forks.
285. Mts Valerie Rogers. Novelty handcuffS.
294. Mrs Angela Kilmartin. Book, Understanding Cystitis..
402. Masters Shaun and David Bradbury. A bulldog clip.
424. Mrs Emily Bryce. A tea towel.
447. Mrs Jean Fathing. Cheese kit.
455. Miss M E A Coleman. Sachet of shampoo.
476. Mr Paul Kidd. A pebble.
499. Rev Canon and Mrs C L Conder. Three felt mice.
529. Sir Gerald Nabarro. A cheque.
536. Mr and Mrs L Curley. Knitted tea cosy.
545. Mr Seyfettin Tung. Book, O World Stop Revolving by the donor.
591. Mr F Pella. Various carvings out of coal.
596. Lieutenant Colonel The Hon. Peter and The Lady Romayne Brassey. Four Teflon non-stick saucepans.
602. Captain R Haddon. Two sets of bandages.
And that’s just the first half of the list. A trawl through the second next week …