So he gave Her an iPod


I admit it’s not the swankiest of gifts, but surely a personalised iPod for Her Majesty is less tone-deaf than a DVD set for the Prime Minister.

LONDON—Finally! An answer to the question that everyone has been dying to know, especially after the debacle of the gift exchange last month when the Obama’s gave British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a bunch of DVDs and proceeded to get hammered for bad gift-giving by the British press: What did the Obamas give to Queen Elizabeth II Wednesday when they arrived at Buckingham Palace?

An iPod.

Seriously. An Obama aide reports that Mr. Obama gave the queen an iPod loaded with video and photos of her 2007 trip to the United States, as well as other songs and accessories, and a rare songbook signed by Richard Rodgers, of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame.

According to reports, the queen gave the Obamas a silver framed signed photograph — a gift she gives to all visiting dignitaries.

— Helene Cooper.  “Her Majesty’s Royal iPod“, New York Times, April 1st, 2009.

Some of the commenters to that article call the iPod tacky and embarassing.  I’m not so sure.  The question of what to give a wealthy monarch would likely stump even Martha Stewart.  Unless the President was going to splurge on something really over-the-top—like renouncing the Constitution and returning the United States to British rule—it would be fairly hard to give a really impressive gift to the Sovereign Who Has Everything.  Queen Elizabeth’s father, after all, was head of state to a quarter of the planet.  I am certain that he and his forebears collected all the really awesome, historic gifts this planet has to offer.  Whatever’s left is bound to be a disappointment.  At least getting an iPod is slightly better than something far less useful, like New Jersey.

The real key to gift-giving is not the expense necessarily, but the thoughtfulness.  The je-ne-sais-quoi that makes that particular gift appropriate for that particular person.  What’s something only the United States can give?  How about a personalised F-22 Raptor, with Vargas pin-up-girl nose art and an ass-whoopin’ name, like “Ballistic Betty”.  That’s the kind of gift you don’t easily forget.  And it’s practical.  You never know when you’re going to have to leave a JDAM-sized invitation for one of your PMs to tender his resignation.

Category: Foreign Affairs  Tags: ,
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