When John F. Kennedy visited the Buckingham Palace in 1961, he brought a small token for Queen Elizabeth.
The gift was a signed portrait in a silver frame from Tiffany & Co.
A full and formal state visit was expected to take place, but JFK’s assassination two years later in 1963 meant that it never took place.
Now, the portrait which JFK signed is on display for the first time at the annual Buckingham Palace winter exhibition. This year’s exhibition focuses on 250 gifts presented to the Queen of Great Britain during her record-breaking 65 years on the throne. The gifts which are on display range from grand to quirky. Among all the gifts, there was an eye-catching gift. It was the Vessel of Friendship.
The vessel is a model of the treasure ship sailed by the navigator and diplomat Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty. It was presented by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping during his state visit in the year 2015.
His gift, if compared to the others, was much less lavish. But it had a good reason for it. That time, John F. Kennedy came in accordance with a dinner invitation and not on a state visit. If it had been a state visit, he would have brought a gift that would have been considered appropriate.
Recently, when former President, Barack Obama visited in 2016, he brought a set of bits which are used in carriage driving. He brought it as a present for an avid driver, Prince Philip.
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“The shape of the gift by Mr Obama is known as a Liverpool bit. And the white part has the Presidential seal and it would sit on the horse’s cheek. They were the same as those used by a successful American team. Sometimes they will be a gift for both the Queen and the Duke, and occasionally gifts might be given to reflect their interests or two halves of a pair”.
The finest piece will be ‘The Queen’s Cup’. It is made by Steuben Glass, which was given to Queen Elizabeth by President, Dwight D. Eisenhower on her first visit to the United States in October 1957. It is decorated with an engraving of the native flora and fauna of America.
It included tulips, day-lily, arbutus, bluebells, violets, Joe Pye weed, tobacco, maize, sumac, pine, holly, chestnut, magnolia, hickory and elm. There were also several animals among the plants, including a pheasant, a fox, a racoon and a white-tailed deer.
“It is nearly 15 inches tall, indeed taller than most people would expect. It has the fluid glass to the top and the four spiral feet. To be able to tell what these plants and flowers are and look that real in that scale is really remarkable and memorable”.