Unexpected gifts the Queen's received, following Sturgeon's Johnnie Walker bottle

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·Lifestyle Writer, Yahoo Life UK
·9-min read
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Watch: Queen given whisky by Scotland's First Minister

The Queen was given a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky by Nicola Sturgeon during their meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

The monarch, 96, held an audience with the First Minister in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where she is staying for a week of engagements in Scotland.

The exchange of gifts came less than 24 hours after Sturgeon unveiled plans for a second Scottish independence referendum, with a date of 19 October 2023.

The Queen was presented with a limited edition bottle from the well known Scottish brand, which seemed to more than please her as she remarked "that must be whisky!" and "what a nice thing to have".

Read more: Queen smiles from ear to ear as she watches parade in Scotland

Queen Elizabeth II receives First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week, on June 29, 2022 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Members of the Royal Family are spending a Royal Week in Scotland, carrying out a number of engagements between Monday June 27 and Friday July 01, 2022. (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen receives First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week. (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Despite the Queen's apparent delight at the gift, some have questioned whether the present was the right choice.

"Anyone a Johnnie Walker Blue label fan? Is it fit for a queen?" wrote one Twitter user.

Others joked online "That's one for the staff Christmas do" and "Guess HRM is lucky she didn’t get a case of Irn-Bru and a bag of haggie crisps".

A bottle of Johnnie Walker isn't the only - and by no account the most - unexpected gift the Queen's received during her reign. Here's a selection of some of the other more unique presents, big and small, she's been presented with.

Bag of salt

A staff member from Buckingham Palace displays a Linen bag containing salt from the British Virgin Islands presented to Queen Elizabeth II, during a Preview of the Royal Gifts Exhibition, on April 3, 2017 in London. The exhibition includes gifts given during State Visits, overseas tours and official engagements and those presented to mark significant moments in Her Majesty's life. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
A staff member from Buckingham Palace presents salt from the British Virgin Islands to the Queen, during a Preview of the Royal Gifts Exhibition. (Getty Images)

This bag of salt, albeit less mundane than what you might find in the average person's cupboard, might seem like a quite unexpected gift to most.

But salt is actually the traditional annual 'payment' from Salt Island, one of the British Virgin Islands, to the British monarch. Governor John Duncan gave the Queen this one in 2016.

It was then presented to her again during a preview of the Royal Gifts Exhibition – that showcased many of her other memorable presents – in London in 2017.

Read more: Queen appears cheery as she makes unexpected Edinburgh visit with Sophie and Edward

GCHQ-themed pin

Records released by Buckingham Palace last year showed the Queen received 72 official presents in 2019, including one from the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, the intelligence and security organisation.

She was given a small pin badge marking its centenary, presented in a 3D printed box with a cypher code on the perspex lid, etched with “Thank you, Ma’am” in 'Hex' code, following a visit to Watergate House.

Pygmy hippos and exotic animals

THOMAS AND MARY, TWO PIGMY HIPPOPOTOMI PRESENTED TO THE QUEEN BY PRESIDENT PULMAN OF LIBERIA AS A GIFT FOR PRINCE ANDREW DURING THE ROYAL VISIT TO AFRICA LAST NOVEMBER, THE HIPPOS ARE BEING LOOKED AFTER AT WHIPSNADE ZOO IN BEDFORDSHIRE   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Hypos Thomas and Mary, pictured at Whipsnade Zoo in 1962. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images).

Meet Thomas and Mary, two pygmy hippopotami given to the Queen by President Tubman of Liberia in 1961, intended for her son Andrew.

The rare species, around the size of a mastiff and found on the West African coast, later found a home at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.

"The Queen has asked us to look after them", it said at the time. "We hope Prince Andrew will come and see them."

She's also reportedly been given an elephant, a crocodile, a horse and a pair of young red deer stags during her time.

Painting of a swimming pig of The Bahamas

She also received this special piece of art in 2019 when she gave an audience to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, H.E. Dame Marguerite Pindling.

Swimming pigs live on Big Major Cay, an uninhabited island in the Bahamas, where they learnt how to paddle out to passing boats to try and get food.

Queen Elizabeth Land

Queen Elizabeth Land, Antarctica. (gov.uk/Foreign & Commonwealth Office/The Rt Hon William Hague)
Queen Elizabeth Land is almost twice the size of the UK. (gov.uk/Foreign & Commonwealth Office/The Rt Hon William Hague)

To mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year in 2012, and honour her sixtieth year on the throne, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the southern part of the British Antarctic Territory had been named 'Queen Elizabeth Land'.

"As a mark of this country’s gratitude to The Queen for Her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honour as ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’," said Hague.

"This is a fitting tribute at the end of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year, and I am very proud to be able to announce it as she visits the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of fourteen UK Overseas Territories. To be able to recognise the UK’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honour."

The area, which was previously unnamed, is around 169,000 square miles (437,000 sq km), making up just under a third of the whole land mass of the British Antarctic Territory.

This is almost twice the size of the UK, which stands at 94,000 square miles (244,000 sq km).

Princess Elizabeth Land

Princess Elizabeth Land Antarctica as the world's largest ice sheet could be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than previously thought, according to new research.
Princess Elizabeth Land Antarctica as the world's largest ice sheet. (PA Images)

Yes, that's right, Queen Elizabeth Land wasn't the first time a region of Antarctica had been named after her. She'd already been gifted with Princess Elizabeth Land back in 1931, discovered by the Australian Sir Douglas Mawson, who decided to honour the then princess with it.

And in 2006, an unnamed mountain range in the Antarctic Peninsula was named The Princess Royal Range, in recognition of the Queen's work to support environmental and heritage protection work in Antarctica.

Read more: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge call Dame Deborah James 'inspirational and unfalteringly brave'

Gin ready to drink

Like the whisky from Sturgeon, the Regiment de la a Chaudiere of Canada kept things simple but effective when giving her a boxed bottle of gin and two glasses three years ago.

Elizabeth Line plaque

Britain's Queen Elizabeth holds a commemorative plaque after unveiling the new roundel for the Crossrail line that will be known as the Elizabeth line once the line officially opens, at the Bond Street Crossrail station construction site in central London on February 23, 2016. - Crossrail, a new train link connecting counties to west of London to the county of Essex in the east, will be known as the Elizabeth line once it opens in December 2018. (Photo by RICHARD POHLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD POHLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen smiles as she holds the commemorative plaque in February, 2016. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

While the Elizabeth Line has only recently opened, marking the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June, plans for the new exciting tube line were first announced in 2016.

She was presented with commemorative plaque from Transport for London after unveiling the new roundel for the Crossrail line (which it was referred to then), while visiting the Bond Street Crossrail station construction site in central London.

She even wore purple to match when receiving the gift, a colour chosen for its practical purposes, while also being perceived as a royal colour.

"It was actually a happy coincidence that the colour is also associated with the Royal Family," a TFL spokesperson previously told MyLondon.

"Any new colours introduced to the TfL network have to be considered carefully, given that we are working from a finite colour palette.

"Elizabeth line purple (Pantone 265) was selected on the grounds that it is visually distinctive from the other modal roundels, for example London Underground red or London Overground orange, enabling it to be easily identified by our customers."

B'ham palace tube sign

Sally Goodsir, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, holds a London Underground sign presented to Queen Elizabeth which forms one of the exhibits on the theme of Royal Gifts which goes on show from July 22 at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, London, Britain, April 3, 2017.  REUTERS/Toby Melville
Sally Goodsir, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, holds a London Underground sign presented to the Queen, one of the exhibits on the theme of Royal Gifts. (REUTERS)

The Elizabeth Line plaque followed another memorable tube-themed, with the Queen's collection also including an underground wall plaque for Buckingham Palace in 2010, also from Transport for London.

It was then also included in the Royal Gifts Exhibition in 2017.

Read more: Zara Tindall steps into Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle's shoes at Wimbledon

A pop-up book

Pop-up books aren't just for children, as President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China and Madame Peng Liyuan sent one in the Queen in the post in 2019.

The sweet gesture was intended to mark the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, from 1949-2019.

A Tesco Gift Card

Queen Elizabeth II laughs as she receives a Tesco Gift Card as a prize after her horse 'Barber's Shop' won the Tattersalls and RoR Thoroughbred Ridden Show Series Championship on day 2 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park on May 12, 2016 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Queen laughs as she receives a Tesco Gift Card as a prize. (Indigo/Getty Images)

While it might not exactly be as elaborate as a hippo or a piece of land, the Queen still looked ecstatic to receive a Tesco voucher at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2016.

Her horse, 'Barber's Shop', won the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Ridden Show Horse Championship at the event, which resulted in her being handed the gift card as a prize, much to her delight, or amusement...

Susan the Corgi

Princess Elizabeth with her pet Corgi Sue or Susan at Windsor Castle, UK, 30th May 1944.  (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Queen with her pet Corgi Sue or Susan at Windsor Castle, UK, 30th May 1944. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Everyone associated the Queen with corgis, but her love for them actually began with one very special gift back in 1944.

Her first corgi, Susan, was given to her as an 18th birthday present by her parents after she had fallen in love with her father's dog Dookie, a Pembrokeshire corgi, and wanted to have one of her own.

The Queen has owned more than 30 Corgis and Dorgis (Dachshund and Corgi) during her reign, which have mostly descended from Susan.

Following the pup's death in 1959, a headstone for her grave personally designed by her loving owner lives on at Sandringham House.

Read more: The Queen returns to work without walking stick as she receives award

Watch: Queen presented with rose

'Letter to my dear Lilibet'

The Queen was given a small booklet containing 'Letter to my dear Lilibet' and a video CD, given by the High Commissioner for Sierra Leone, H.E. Mr. Tamba Lamina, when he presented his Letters of Commission to her during an audience, also documented in the 2019 list of gifts.

The Queen's grandfather King George V would warmly call her Lilibet, imitating her attempts to say her own name, which stuck as a nickname among close relatives.

More pygmy hypos (this time carved)

In the same year, the Ambassador of Liberia, H.E. Mrs. Gurly Gibson gave her three wood carvings of the animals native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, though likely a bit different from the real hypos given from the country in 1961.

During her Platinum Jubilee, it's likely the Queen's list of unique gifts has grown even more.

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