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Why Meghan Markle will have to send her birthday gifts back

The Duchess of Sussex turned 37 last weekend

Ainhoa Barcelona

As the newest member of the royal family, the Duchess of Sussex will have received a number of cards and presents from her fans around the world. Meghan turned 37 last Saturday and spent the day attending the wedding of Charlie van Straubenzee and Daisy Jenks; Charlie is Prince Harry's childhood friend. But returning to London, Meghan may have found a pile of gifts waiting for her, which, sadly, some of them she will have had to send back.

The reason is simple. Royals are not allowed to receive freebies from businesses or people they do not personally know, to prevent them being exploited for commercial purposes. The guidelines on the royal family's official website state: "Gifts offered by private individuals living in the UK not personally known to the Member of the Royal Family should be refused where there are concerns about the propriety or motives of the donor or the gift itself."

Royals are typically not allowed to accept unsolicited gifts

The only gifts that can be accepted are flowers, foodstuff and other consumable items (within reasonably quantities), copies of books presented by the author (provided the subject matter is not controversial) and other items of small monetary value (costing less than £150). As for any other gifts that do not fall under these categories, "consideration should be given to returning them to the donor if it is believed that the donor or another body or organisation might be able to make better use of them than the Member of The Royal Family".

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Harry and Meghan pictured on her 37th birthday

The website also notes that gifts sent from outside the UK "should normally be refused" expect when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Commonwealth Secretariat recommend they be accepted. And technically speaking, official gifts are not the private property of the royal family member anyway, but "are instead received in an official capacity in the course of official duties in support of, and on behalf of The Queen. As such, Members of The Royal Family are responsible for such gifts on behalf of The Queen (in right of the Crown)".

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Kate and Meghan's fashion compared:

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On the royal family's website, it also notes that Her Majesty cannot accept gifts for security reasons. It states: "For security reasons, the Correspondence Team are unable to accept any unsolicited gifts which are sent to The Queen."

Earlier this year, Prince Harry and Meghan were forced to return some £7m worth of unsolicited gifts from businesses, firms and celebrities, who were commemorating the couple's wedding in May. The Duke and Duchess were apparently inundated with packages and parcels at their Kensington Palace home, but had to send the majority of the more costly gifts back.

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