Most happy couples get ten toasters, bed linen or, at best, a washing machine. Royalty usually go one better, with a racehorse topping the Queen and Prince Philip’s gift list, while Prince Charles and Diana received a £1 million gem-encrusted gold model of an Arab boat.
However, Prince William and Kate Middleton, who want to put their own stamp on their big day, are shunning a traditional wedding list, and lavish gifts, and instead asking guests to donate to charity.
The couple will accept presents from close family members, but other guests will be asked to make a confidential charitable donation.
Courtiers yesterday confirmed that they are looking at the revolutionary scheme, which will raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the chosen charities, yet to be decided.
‘William and Kate have everything they need so they have decided that it might be nice to ask for charitable donations instead of presents,’ a source said yesterday. ‘They have said this is their wish and the logistics are being looked into.’
All donations will be confidential and guests at the April 29 wedding will be advised on how to make postal and online donations when they receive invitations next month.
About 300 guests are expected to attend the evening reception at Buckingham Palace, where Prince Charles is hosting a dinner and dance, but many more will be invited to the 11am ceremony and all will want to give gifts.
A courtier said, ‘It was their idea to suggest getting guests to give donations rather than presents. They want to use the goodwill towards them to help the causes close to them.
‘Their family will want to give presents, as will some of their best friends, but there won’t be a list. They are a couple who are conscious of the hard times the country is going through and do not want their wedding to be seen as ostentatious.’
Kate Middleton has chosen to arrive at Westminster Abbey by car rather than carriage, and the Queen is hosting a buffet rather than a sit-down lunch following the reception.
‘Given that there will be many diplomats and heads of state and royalty from around the world, William and Kate can expect some sizeable donations,’ adds a source. ‘They could make a fortune for their charities.’
William is patron of 23 charities and organisations including Centrepoint, The Child Bereavement Charity, The Tusk Trust and The Royal Marsden Hospital. Kate is associated with the Starlight children’s charity and will take on more charitable roles after the wedding.
When Prince Charles and Lady Diana married in July 1981, they received more than 6,000 gifts, including a piece of crocheted lace made from yarn personally spun by Mahatma Gandhi and a solid gold model of an Arab sailing dhow encrusted with gems from the Emir of Bahrain.
It was thought to be worth between £500,000 and £1 million. Diana was also given a sapphire pendant by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh received more than 2,500 presents when they married in November 1947. As well as jewellery from their close relatives, the couple received salt cellars, a bookcase and a picnic hamper.
Winston Churchill sent a complete set of his books and the Aga Khan gave the couple a racehorse. Gifts from abroad included a gold and jade necklace from King Farouk of Egypt. A hand-knitted cardigan and bed socks were among the offerings from members of the public.
A spokesman for Clarence House said: ‘Receiving donations is an option that is being considered.’