The Most Extravagant Gifts The Royal Family Has Ever Received

Many of us can only dream of the opulence that being a member of the British royal family entails. But despite the apparent glitz and glam of a regal lifestyle, members of The Firm must adhere to strict royal etiquette – and this includes rules pertaining to the acquisition of gifts. Gifts from official heads of state are not regarded as private property; therefore, royals cannot sell or profit from them. However, sovereign members may receive presents from friends and acquaintances; these are regarded as personal gifts.

Despite the guidelines, which are not enforced, there remains much controversy surrounding the matter of royal gifts. Subsequently, campaigners argue that a lack of transparency with regard to the issue may lead to the royals exploiting their positions of power as representatives of the sovereign state. "When the royal family interact with foreign governments, they very clearly do so in the public service, often on the advice or request of government," anti-corruption advocate, Susan Hawley, told The Guardian. "Rules on not accepting gifts, and disclosing any that are accepted, are there for a purpose: to protect the reputation of the UK and its public institutions from accusations of being open to influence from the highest bidder."

However, given the royals' prominent role in diplomatic relations with nations around the world, it should come as little surprise that they've been recipients of many lavish gifts. Let's take a look at the most extravagant gifts the royal family has ever received.

The royal stamp collection

The Windsors are known for their eclectic hobbies, be it horse riding or, in the case of Queen Consort Camilla, keeping fit via ballet. But one hobby that has been popular throughout the generations is stamp collecting. Over the years, the royals have accumulated a rather impressive — not to mention expensive — ensemble. An investigation by The Guardian examined the royal philatelic collection, the biggest in the world and much of which was gifted by world leaders.

George V, in particular, was an avid philatelist. He arguably started the trend of royals being offered rare postmarks, though on many occasions he allegedly demanded that he be given stamps, particularly when it came to countries that were under the rule of the British Empire. In 1939, the Canadian government gifted his son, George VI, a selection of mint stamps. In 2016, George's daughter, Queen Elizabeth, was given a Laos stamp set as a 90th birthday present (Liz herself was an eager stamp collector). In total, the collection is worth an eye-watering £100 million (around $124 million). 

Due to the extravagant and expensive nature of the miscellany, the investigation led to increased scrutiny of royal gifts, and some called for the private collection to be transferred into public hands. "Why not just merge the royal philatelic collection with the royal collection? A lot of people have said that; me included," argued philately expert Douglas Muir. "Whether they would want it or not — that would be another perfectly acceptable solution."

Some very expensive equine equity

Horses have long been revered and reared by the royal family, and are arguably as much a part of The Firm as the Windsors themselves. Accordingly, horses have proven ideal gifts for the royals. When visiting West Germany in 1978, Queen Elizabeth reportedly demanded two horses, worth just shy of £53,000 (around $65,800), as gifts from the state, a request that officials deemed just a tad extra, per The Telegraph. Nevertheless, the Queen gets what she wants and President Walter Scheel acquiesced.

Over the years, Elizabeth was given more horses. In 2022, following the queen's celebration of her platinum jubilee, the president of Azerbaijan offered her a prized racing horse believed to be worth over $17,000. Moreover, several dozen horses gifted by various Saudi royals proved highly lucrative indeed. In 2023, The Guardian reported that Elizabeth and her son, King Charles III, made $2 million by selling their equine equity. Although the horses were bequeathed by Saudi heads of state, including controversial United Arab Emirates leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Buckingham Palace distinguished the offerings from official state gifts.

As previously stated, official gifts cannot be sold, but the horses were regarded as private offerings, meaning that the royals were seemingly entitled to sell and profit from them. "Personal gifts given to Queen Elizabeth by those who knew her late majesty privately would remain private, as they would for any other individual," a spokesperson explained.

The Nizam of Hyderabad necklace

When she wed Prince Philip in 1947, Queen Elizabeth II, then known as the Duchess of Edinburgh, was presented with numerous gifts, many of which serve as relics of the British Empire. One such gift was the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, which is believed to be the most expensive royal necklace of all time. 

The piece was named so after Asaf Jah VII, the last Nizam of Hyderabad (then home to the British Residency, though it has since become a public monument), who was one of the richest men in the world. Known for his love of all things ornate, the Nizam was so wealthy that he is said to have thought nothing of using a diamond as a paperweight. Subsequently, it comes as little surprise that his gift to Elizabeth was supremely opulent.

He presented the future monarch with an exquisite cluster of over 50 diamonds, which she sported in numerous regal portraits. "Consisting of 13 emerald-cut and pear-shaped diamonds and a chain of 38 brilliant-cut open-back collets with an elongated oval brilliant-set snap, it is to no surprise that Elizabeth chose this magnificent piece of jewelry," auctioneer Paul Hird told Express. The necklace is as pretty as it is princely, worth a whopping £66 million (around $82 million). Elizabeth even let Kate Middleton wear the majestic jewels on several occasions, leading to speculation that the lucky princess may have inherited it following the queen's tragic death in 2022.

The Oriental Circlet Tiara and Queen Mary Fringe Tiara

Tiaras aren't just for prom queens and bachelorette parties. Indeed, nothing exudes the glam and prestige of royalty quite like a tiara and every regal lady seems to have her preferred bejeweled headgear. But not all tiaras are created equal. One of the most expensive royal tiaras, which was gifted to the Queen Mother on her husband's coronation day, is the Oriental Circlet Tiara.

Designed by Prince Albert, the ornate headpiece was originally owned by Queen Victoria. As reflective of Britain's colonial history, the tiara is largely inspired by traditional Indian finery. Initially adorned with opals, these were replaced with stunning rubies that made the headpiece pop. Subsequently, it's worth a whopping £6 million (around $7.4 million).

Another pricey tiara is the Queen Mary Fringe, which was a wedding gift to Queen Mary from Queen Victoria. Named so after its impressive spiky fixtures, the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara could also be worn as a necklace. Famously, Queen Elizabeth II borrowed it for her wedding day and accidentally broke the clasp, though it was swiftly fixed by a jeweler. The stunning headpiece is worth even more than the Oriental Circlet. "It features 47 bars of graduated brilliant diamonds and rose-cut diamond tapering bars which are separated by 46 narrow spikes," a Diamondsbyme expert explained, per Express. "We value the tiara at £7.5million (around $9.2 million)."

Wills and Kate's lavish wedding present

When it comes to wedding presents from grandma, one might think of something benign and practical like a juicer. Queen Liz, however, had other ideas for grandson William and his bride, Kate Middleton, when they tied the knot in 2011. Elizabeth gifted Wills and Kate Anmer Hall, an 18th-century, 30-room Georgian mansion. At a value of £30 million (around $37 million), this is one of the most expensive royal gifts of all time.

The offering was significantly pricier than Elizabeth's wedding present to Harry and Meghan, Frogmore Cottage (the property ultimately went to Prince Andrew following the Sussexes' decision to relocate to Canada). Despite being presented with such a lavish gift, Wills and Kate decided to totally renovate Anmer Hall, particularly the kitchen, which cost almost $50,000 to modernize.

"The couple have decided to make changes to the kitchen at Anmer Hall and a lot of what was there is not there any more," a source told the Daily Mail. The renovations reportedly cost just under $2 million altogether, making this one both a generous gift and a lucrative investment. In spite of the hefty price tag, Kate has reportedly been enjoying hosting casual and low-key soirees at her mansion. "Friends and family from nearby gathered informally in the inviting space for laid-back meals — a stark departure from lunch at Buckingham Palace or Sandringham, where guests were served by a full staff," Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote in "Finding Freedom" (via Hello!).

The Saudi Sapphire Suite

Seeing as the concept of royalty is one of quaint and archaic rule, it stands to reason that respective dynasties would maintain cordial relations. The House of Windsor and the Saudi royal family have been friendly for the best part of a century. In 1981, the late Princess Diana was gifted a set of majestic sapphire jewels, dubbed the Saudi Sapphire Suite, by Saudi Crown Prince Fahd as a wedding present. 

Upon seeing the jewels, a stunned Diana remarked (via The Court Jeweller), "Gosh, and I don't even know this man!" Indeed, Di was renowned for her love of fine jewelry and she was particularly fond of sapphires (she famously sported a sapphire engagement ring, which was later worn by Kate Middleton). The sapphire collection, which includes a necklace, earrings, ring, and bracelet, is worth a fortune. "The sapphire in the necklace alone looks to be around 30 to 35 carats," jeweler Maxwell Stone told Express, "so combining the whole suite would probably give it an estimated value of around £15 million ($18.5 million) considering the number of sapphires and diamonds used, not to mention the incredible legacy these jewels hold."

However, gemologist Alexandra Michell believes that the set is worth significantly more than that, telling Hello! that the true value could be up to $24.7 million. The People's Princess was incredibly fond of the generous gifts, which she frequently donned at regal events. The jewels were inherited by William and Harry following Diana's untimely death.

King Charles' extravagant gift to Kate Middleton

Although King Charles' relationship with daughter-in-law Meghan Markle remains strained, he has seemingly enjoyed a much more amiable bond with William's wife, Kate Middleton. Their bond is so strong, in fact, that Charles went all out on Middleton's wedding day. As with the aforementioned mother-in-law that she would sadly never meet, Middleton evidently has a penchant for striking yet tasteful bling. While the Princess of Wales is a fan of both high-end and affordable trinkets, Charles decided that his daughter-in-law deserved only the finest regalia on her special day. 

The then Prince of Wales gifted his future daughter-in-law an exquisite — and exorbitant — diamond and white gold jewelry set. The ring, bracelet, and earrings ensemble, which was custom-made for the princess, is believed to be valued at around £60,000 (approximately $74.3k), as jewelry expert Anna Byers told Express.

Appropriately for her understated and demure sense of style, the jewels are chic, with classic accents. "The earrings feature two round diamond clusters almost in a flower shape," Byers explained, continuing, "The bracelet has a repeating diamond cluster and baguette pattern bordered by two rows of diamonds, with the central diamond again seeming to have a yellow hue. The ring has a double diamond cluster." The gesture clearly meant a lot to Middleton, who has worn the stunning jewels on multiple occasions.

A private jet birthday card for Prince George

Few children enjoy a lifestyle as luxurious and extra as Prince George. In 2015, the prince, who was a toddler at the time, reportedly received more gifts than any other royal. These included a real fur cloak, a skateboard, a mini boat, and various toys. But nothing quite matches the present he received for his first birthday.

Rather than presenting the youngster with a standard birthday card, aviation company Hangar8 repainted a private jet with the words "Happy Birthday Prince George." The gesture cost a whopping £120,000 (just under $150k), reportedly making it the most expensive birthday card of all time.

"It was great fun, we're really proud of the design," marketing director Janus Kamradt said, per Oxford Mail. "Four painters spent a month on it and they worked really, really hard. We're unable to fly it to Prince George at Kensington Palace, so we sent him a picture of his biggest birthday card." But the gift was as expensive as it was ephemeral. The jet was swiftly repainted once George's birthday passed. But Kamradt hoped that the gesture, though fleeting, may inspire the future king to embark on an aviation career. "I think he's a little too young to be into aviation just yet, but who knows?" he quipped. "Maybe one day he'll be a pilot like his father and grandfather and remember us here."

Queen Elizabeth's pearl necklace from the Emir of Qatar

Pearls are synonymous with the late Queen Elizabeth II. The monarch was rarely seen sans a cluster of freshwater oyster beads draped around her neck. One of her most beloved pearlescent possessions was yet another regal gift courtesy of the Arab dynasties.

In 1979, Liz went on a tour of the Middle East, where she was lavished with numerous opulent gifts. Among the offerings were two necklaces — a pearl one and a longer gold pendant — from the Emir of Qatar. The latter alone was worth a staggering $2 million. Today, that's equivalent to around $8.3 million. "I'm sure the Queen is very gratified," Elizabeth's rep said at the time, per The New York Times. But it was the pearl necklace that Liz appeared to cherish the most.

The extravagant six-strand, diamond-clasped necklace was undoubtedly one of the most ornate pieces of jewelry the queen owned. Perhaps as a sign of solidarity towards the Qatari royal family, she often wore the necklace when she visited Qatar. However, she found the necklace to be a tad too bling for royal engagements, instead opting to wear her signature three-strand pearls. "It's the necklace that she feels is appropriate — she wants to wear pearls every day as her mother and grandmother did before her," author Leslie Field told People. "She wouldn't wear a diamond necklace to go to a charity lunch — it is simply traditional that a lady would wear pearls during the day."

Meghan Markle's Cartier watch will be gifted to her daughter

Whereas those born and raised in the royal family rarely have to pay for their own finery, Meghan Markle had to work her way to the top. Subsequently, prior to becoming the Duchess of Sussex, Markle decided to treat herself once she began raking in the big bucks thanks to "Suits." And at the top of her wish list was the Cartier French Tank watch.

But unlike the other presents in this rundown, Markle's Cartier watch is a future gift, one that she intends to give her daughter Lilibet when she's old enough. "When I found out Suits had been picked up for our third season — which, at the time, felt like such a milestone — I totally splurged and bought the two-tone version," she told Hello! in 2015. "I had it engraved on the back, 'To M.M. From M.M.' and I plan to give it to my daughter one day. That's what makes pieces special, the connection you have to them."

Although the luxury watch, which is worth a princely $6,750 as of this writing, isn't as exorbitant as many of the aforementioned gifts, it is certainly an extravagant gift for a child and will likely be worth significantly more once Princess Lilibet is old enough to wear it. Much like her regal cousins, Lilibet is going to be one extra kid — and we're living for it.

Prince Philip's illustrated bible from Marc Chagall

The Windsors have long been patrons of the art world. King Charles himself is an avid amateur artist, specializing in watercolors of the British landscape. It stands to reason, then, that the royals have accumulated quite an impressive art collection throughout the years, containing works by the likes of Dali, Monet, and Lowry. While many of these paintings were purchased by the royals, some were presents from the artists themselves.

Like his son, Prince Philip was a lover of the arts. During an official state visit to Denmark in 1960, he was taken by surprise when surrealist artist Marc Chagall gifted him a Bible. "He gave me this Bible he has illustrated, just out of the blue. He was a very strange man," Philip said upon receiving the present, which contains illustrations valued at £60,000 (around $74.3k), per The Guardian

The Bible is listed among the artworks in the Windsors' personal collection, once again raising questions over the ethics of royals receiving gifts during official state visits. Accordingly, critics have argued that the royal art collection should be placed into public ownership. "It is incorrect to suggest that the artworks you list were all official gifts," a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said of the matter. "We would not comment on the value of works of art."

Princess Charlotte's diamond encrusted rattle

Prince George may have received the world's most expensive birthday card, but his little sister has been lavished with presents fit for a (future) queen. In 2016, Princess Charlotte celebrated her first birthday and was presented with innumerable extravagant gifts, including silk figurines from Chinese president, Xi Jinping, a plushie replica of Bo the dog from the Obamas, and a merino wool blanky from the Australian government. But the most extravagant present of all was arguably an 18k gold rattle encrusted with diamonds in the shape of the Union Jack, which was gifted by the Natural Sapphire Company, worth a whopping $45,000. Not bad for a rugrat who'd only just started walking.

On the Natural Sapphire Company blog, the brand explained that it was inspired to bestow baby Charlotte with the lavish gift as a thank you to the then Duchess of Cambridge, whose sapphire engagement ring led to the company's sales soaring. "Our luxury rattle, worth $45,000, is made from 18k white gold; lined with sapphires, rubies and diamonds to produce the union jack flag," the company explained. "Such a unique gift, unlike any they will receive from well wishes around the world, will surely be treasured." 

In an earlier post, the company revealed that its designers had been working on the rattle since Charlotte's birth. We're not sure how practical a bejeweled rattle is, but there's no denying that the princess looked on point while using it.

Princess Diana's Cartier watch now reportedly belongs to Meghan Markle

By Prince Harry's own admission, Meghan Markle is comparable to his mom, Lady Diana, and the two women share a royally rebellious nature. The pair also share a taste in fine jewelry — Cartier in particular. As previously mentioned, Markle longed for a Cartier watch years before she met Harry and became the Duchess of Sussex. Testament to her similarity to her late mother-in-law, Diana also cherished her Cartier watches, particularly a Tank Française, which is valued at $24,400.

Re-gifting watches are a common tradition within the royal family. Upon Diana's death, the Tank Française was inherited by her sons, and Harry ultimately gifted it to his wife. Considering that Markle had always wanted a Cartier watch, buying one with her "Suits" salary before entering the House of Windsor, Harry's gesture was both thoughtful and generous. Evidently delighted by the gift, Markle has been spotted wearing it on several occasions, including during a hike with pals and on the cover of Time magazine.

The watch isn't the only piece from Diana's collection that Harry reportedly gifted to Markle; he sweetly used jewels from his mom's tiara when designing his wife's engagement ring. "Diana's jewelry collection was left in trust for the boys and Meghan apparently loves emeralds," a source told the Daily Star. "For Harry, like Wills before him, using his mother's gems means the two loves of his life will forever be linked."