Queen removes ivory gong from Indian exhibition

Queen removes ivory gong from Indian exhibition

Queen Elizabeth II has removed an antique gong framed with ivory from an Indian artifacts exhibition held on her Sandringham Estate to avoid angering conservationists.

The 91-year-old monarch's estate in the East Anglia region of England houses the museum which holds a special exhibition annually.

This year the theme of the exhibition is India to mark the 'UK-India Year of Culture 2017' and 70 years of Indian independence. Among the exhibits on display are items presented to the Queen and the British royal family over the years, many of them by Indian royalty during the Raj.

The gong was presented to the Queen's great grandfather George V during a state visit to India in 1911.

However, under modern day laws the display of ivory has come under strict scrutiny, requiring special exemption in many cases.

The Control of Trade in Endangered Species Act bans the display of "unworked ivory" for commercial gain and the offence carries a sentence of up to two years in jail and an unlimited fine. Additionally, the Queen's grandson and second in line to the throne Prince William is among the most vocal campaigners against ivory trade in the UK to protect endangered elephants around the world.

Last year, the Duke of Cambridge called for a complete ban on ivory trade in the UK.

"We know now what previous generations did not – ivory treated as a commodity is the fuel of extinction. Ivory is not something to be desired and when removed from an elephant it is not beautiful.

"So, the question is: why are we still trading it? We need governments to send a clear signal that trading in ivory is abhorrent," he had said at an international wildlife convention in November 2016.

The Museum at Sandringham holds a vast Royal Collection, including tiny Indian doll dancers in its Curio Cupboard and gifts in pearl and exotic hardwoods given to the Queen and members of the royal family on State Visits abroad.

"The exhibition of Indian artefact's in the Museum is proving popular with visitors," a Sandringham Estate statement said.

"It is our understanding that items on display at the Sandringham Estate comply with all existing regulation. However, in any case where there is a genuine doubt, the relevant specimen will be removed from display," it said.

The royal family's collection is believed to have around 1,200 historic ivory items and there is a growing effort to avoid them coming up on public display.

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