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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are allowed to keep over 20 gifts from Nigeria tour - but working royals can't

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex no longer have to follow strict royal rules around gifts

Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
6 days ago
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were embraced by the individuals and communities during their three-day tour of Nigeria.

Prince Harry and Meghan were invited to the west African country on the invitation of the chief of defence staff, with the Duke meeting military veterans and the Duchess co-hosting a Women in Leadership event.

During their trip, the Sussexes received an array of gifts, including artwork, clothing, jewellery and literature, including beaded necklaces, a wooden mask and books on Nigerian heritage from students and staff at the Lightway Academy for their first outing of their visit. 

While there are strict rules around working royals receiving gifts, Harry and Meghan stepped back from duties in 2020 and no longer need to follow such guidelines.

On day one of their visit, Harry looked particularly touched as he received two paintings, one of him and Diana from his childhood, and another portrait of him and wife Meghan, from the governor of Kaduna state, Senator Uba Sani. As he departed, he was handed a large mirror with another painting of the couple. 

Harry and Meghan smile as they visit school in Nigeria© Alamy
They were showered with gifts at the school, including wooden beaded necklaces and books

The Duke then needed some help as he was asked to put on another gift - a traditional waistcoat, a 'Big Gown' and a Hula cap.  

On the second day, the Duke and Duchess stepped for the Nigeria: Unconquered sitting volleyball match, Meghan beamed as she was given a sweet artwork, depicting animals, trees and sunshine, as well as a bouquet of roses from a little girl. 

Meghan Markle receives an artwork upon her arrival at a sitting volleyball match at Nigeria Unconquered© Getty
At the volleyball match, Meghan was given artwork and flowers

And as the pair sat down to watch the volleyball match, they each sported another present - scarves in the colours of Nigeria. 

Prince Harry and Meghan attend a sitting volleyball match at Nigeria Unconquered, a local charity organisation that supports wounded, injured, or sick servicemembers, in Abuja © Getty
Harry and Meghan wearing their scarves at the sitting volleyball match

And later, when the Duke and Duchess attended a reception at the Nigerian Defence Headquarters in Abuja, Harry looked honoured to receive a traditional Nigerian outfit from his hosts, including a shirt and a hat. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle receive a traditional outfit made in Nigeria as they attend lunch at the Nigerian Defence Headquarters in Abuja© Getty
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle receive a traditional outfit made in Nigeria as they attend lunch at the Nigerian Defence Headquarters in Abuja

Meghan even wore her traditional Aso-Oke outfit made by Regalia by FAL with a white Carolina Herrera shirt on the final day of the Nigeria trip, as she and Harry visited the Giants of Africa at Ilupeju Senior Grammar School in Lagos. 

The pair even received their own personalised T-Shirts, each emblazoned with "Harry Dreams Big" and "Meghan Dreams Big". 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Lagos airport for Official State Welcome© Getty/Andrew Esiebo
Meghan donned a Caroline Herrera shirt over a traditional Nigerian skirt she had been presented as a gift

When she later changed into a bold yellow dress by Carolina Herrera, Meghan was gifted a matching shawl, a gift from the wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Babjide Sanwo-Olu. 

Britain's Prince Harry (2ndR), Duke of Sussex, and  Britain's Meghan (R), Duchess of Sussex, react as Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (unseen), gives a speech at the State Governor House in Lagos © Getty
Meghan wearing her shawl with her yellow Carolina Herrera gown

And as the Sussexes attended a charity polo game at the Ikoyi Polo Club in Lagos, Meghan sported traditional Nigerian coral drop earrings, which she had been given to her on the trip, with her Johanna Ortiz maxi dress.  

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry watching charity polo match in Nigeria© Getty
Meghan wore gifted coral earrings to the polo

LISTEN: Why Archie and Lilibet did not join Harry and Meghan on Nigeria tour

What are the rules around the royal family accepting gifts?

There are strict guidelines for members of the royal family when it comes to accepting or receiving gifts. 

The policy, last updated in 2003, states: "The fundamental principle governing the acceptance of gifts by Members of The Royal Family is 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. In this regard, before accepting any gift, careful consideration should always be given, wherever practicable, to the donor, the reason for and occasion of the gift and the nature of the gift itself."

Kate Middleton receives gifts for children at Nottingham Trent University© Getty
William and Kate often leave engagements with gifts for their three children, as seen here when the Princess visiting Nottingham Trent University in 2023

Royals can accept gifts from government bodies, trade associations, guilds, civic bodies, the armed services, charities or similar organisations in the UK, especially if they have an established connection or patronage.

Gifts from individuals not 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". Gifts can be accepted if they are flowers, food or other consumable items, books if the subject matter is not controversial and other items of small monetary value costing less than £150.

Britain's Queen Camilla in a green velvet dress holding a jumper© Getty
Queen Camilla was given jumpers from Gyles Brandreth at a Shakespeare event in February

A record of official gifts given to the royals while they are carrying out their public duties is kept and these may be personally used by or consumed by the individual – for example, cakes, flowers, or displayed in royal residences and estates. Most gifts become part of the Royal Collection or placed on temporary or permanent loan with a reputable organisation. 

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