EDINBURGH.- In the year that Scotland hosts The Commonwealth Games, a special display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse brings together more than 70 gifts presented to The Queen from Commonwealth countries around the world.
The Commonwealth: Gifts to The Queen, which opened this Friday (21 March), marks The Queen's role as Head of the Commonwealth and celebrates the overseas visits made by Her Majesty to Commonwealth countries throughout her reign. From a Botswanan tapestry and beadwork by the Yoruba people, to a shell collage from the Bahamas, a coconut calabasa bowl from Belize and an Inuit wall hanging, the display reflects the diverse traditions and creativity of Commonwealth nations, as well as the Royal Family's long-standing association with the Games.
On display for the first time are gifts presented to mark the occasion of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Following in the footsteps of The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who visited the Pacific islands in 1982, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to the island of Tuvalu on their tour of Malaysia, Singapore and the Solomon Islands in 2012 to mark the Jubilee. A pair of model catamaran-style canoes from the Tuvalu Scouts Association, received by The Duke and The Duchess on behalf of The Queen, is shown alongside a colourful raffia fan given to Her Majesty during her visit to the country 30 years earlier.
Other Diamond Jubilee gifts on display include a wooden bust of a girl, presented by the High Commission of Jamaica, and a porcelain plaque of a turtle swimming underwater, sent to Her Majesty by the Government and People of the Bahamas. One of the most colourful works is a portrait by the celebrated artist Mathias Kauage entitled Missis Kwin, translated as 'Mrs Queen'. Presented in 1996 by the people of Papua New Guinea, this striking painting represents Her Majesty as Head of the Commonwealth and incorporates the traditional symbolism of Kauage's tribe.
During her 61 years on the throne, The Queen has visited almost every country in the Commonwealth. Her reign commenced with her longest ever Commonwealth tour, undertaken within months of her Coronation in June 1953. Encompassing the West Indies, Australasia, Asia and Africa, it lasted from November 1953 to May 1954 and covered over 40,000 miles. To mark her Silver Jubilee in 1977, The Queen visited 14 Commonwealth countries and travelled over 56,000 miles, and for the Golden Jubilee in 2002 Her Majesty visited Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Since 1958 The Queen has started the Baton Relay, marking the official countdown to The Commonwealth Games, one of the world's largest sporting events. An aluminium model of the Golden Jubilee relay baton, given to The Queen at the Opening Ceremony of the Manchester Games in 2002, is included in the display. It is inscribed with the words 'Uniting The Commonwealth Through Sport'.
On 9 October 2013, a ceremony to mark the start of the 2014 Baton Relay, attended by The Queen and senior representatives from across the Commonwealth, took place at Buckingham Palace. The paper-cut stencil for the invitation to the event, created by a Glasgow-based designer and featuring the Palace's facade, is also included in the display. The baton will visit 70 nations and travel over 118,000 miles before its arrival in Glasgow in July.
Deborah Clarke, Royal Collection Trust's curator at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, said, 'The Queen has visited almost every country in the Commonwealth and has received many unique objects from around the world. In the year that the Games come to Scotland, it seemed very fitting to mark Her Majesty's role as Head of the Commonwealth and to display these gifts at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Queen's official residence in Scotland.'