When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married in May 2018, they requested gifts to charities rather than wedding presents, instead, they received an abundance of gifts from loved ones. However, many of the gifts had to be returned due to royal protocol and a little-known rule, according to The Mirror.
When members of the public come to meet the royal family in person, whether for a royal wedding, royal tour, or royal engagement, they are not allowed to accept any gifts from them for perhaps understandable reasons—chief among them being safety.
Presents that guests brought to Windsor were given back to them; in an official statement issued before the nuptials, those wishing to send a gift were instructed to send it to Kensington Palace, which housed Harry and Meghan’s offices at the time.
Many of the heartwarming gifts that fans from all over the world sent Harry and Meghan had to be returned for safety reasons, according to royal protocol.
It is against the law for members of the royal family, like the couple up until 2020, to accept gifts in person from members of the public.
According to The Mirror, “The goal of this was to stop people and businesses from using the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Sussex for publicity.” “For that exact reason, it was previously reported that Harry and Meghan had to return more than £7 million in wedding gifts.”
It is strictly forbidden for a member of the monarchy to accept any gift that might be interpreted as advertising, and this isn’t just a Harry and Meghan rule.
Official royal guidelines state 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.” This is the fundamental principle governing the acceptance of gifts by members of the royal family.
Harry and Meghan did, however, specifically ask for one wedding gift before their big day—a donation to one of seven charities of their choosing, which include CHIVA, Crisis, Myna Mahalia Foundation, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, StreetGames, Surfers Against Sewage, and The Wilderness Foundation U.K.—instead of wedding presents.
Additionally, world leaders in attendance were moved to give wedding gifts to charities in the couple’s honor. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave $50,000 to Jumpstart, an organization that helps underprivileged children participate in sports. The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, gave $5,000 to Pillars, an organization that helps prisoners’ families.