The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle turned 37 this weekend, her first birthday as an official member of the royal family. She spent the day with her husband Prince Harry as they both attended Harry's close friend Charlie van Straubenzee's wedding.
It looked as though the duo was enjoying themselves, and I'm sure Harry had special plans for his new wife once they were back at home. Many well-wishes were sent in to the Duchess of Sussex, and the palace acknowledged everyone's messages through their Twitter account.
There were undoubtedly countless gifts sent in to Her Royal Highness as well, but odds are she's not allowed to keep them. That's right. Markle will most likely have to return the gifts she was given for her birthday this year, unless they came from her direct family or friends.
It makes sense when you think about it. Being a member of the royal family already comes with perks, so accepting gifts from the public seems a little ridiculous. There are actually rules to determine if a gift can be kept!
"The fundamental principle governing the acceptance of gifts by Members of The Royal Family is that no gifts, including hospitality or services, should be accepted which would, or might appear to, place the Member of The Royal Family under any obligation to the donor," states the Royal Family's guidelines.
Gifts From Businesses
There's no better form of publicity than having a member of the royal family wear or use one of your products, but it's not going to be free. Samples or items sent from businesses are always returned to the giver, or declined when offered.
There are two exceptions to this:
- The cost of returning would be too high.
- The gift is offered as a souvenir of an official visit.
Gifts From Public Bodies
These gifts are fine to keep, so long as they're from public bodies in the UK.
A "public body" would be something like government, trade associations, civic groups, the armed forces, charities, or other similar organizations.
Gifts From Strangers
It sounds strange, but when you remember how beloved the royal family is, it's no surprise that they are sent gifts from members of the public all the time. However, if you sent something to Meghan Markle on her birthday, be ready to get it back.
Members of the royal family are not allowed to accept gifts from strangers, as there could be concerns about the motive behind it.
What I find interesting, however, are the exceptions to this rule. They are allowed to keep the gifts if:
- It's flowers or food
- It's a book presented by the author and the subject matter isn't controversial
- It costs less than £150.
To me, food would be a big no-no, since it's pretty easy to contaminate it. But I guess the royal family is a little more trusting than me!
Obviously, these can't be accepted. The only time a member of the royal family can accept a monetary gift is if it is on behalf of a charity.
Money that is sent without a return address or can't be returned is handed over to charity.
When you're living the life as a member of the royal family, I guess turning away gifts isn't the worst thing in the world!
[H/T: Mirror UK]