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'Unofficial' Gallic gifts shunned by royals

Sophie Inge · 26 Jul 2013, 18:42

Published: 26 Jul 2013 18:42 GMT+02:00

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The birth of Prince George was a bitter-sweet experience for French entrepreneur and fan of the British royal family Bertrand Dilasser.

Last week, the 30-year-old Frenchman went to both Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace to try to present his "Made in France" gifts for the newborn to the happy parents William and Kate.

But the gifts, which had been chosen in a ballot in which thousands of French people took part, were sadly not acceptable.


“Unfortunately, they didn't accept unofficial presents,”  Dilasser told The Local. “I was told to send them in the post, but I don’t think that’s a good idea."

Undaunted, Dilasser is planning to return to London next week to hand the toys over to the French Embassy or the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve also thought about leaving them in one of the shops where Kate goes to do her shopping, and asking if they can take a photo of her with them," he said.

Dilasser's quest to present a Gallic gift to the royal couple on the birth of their first child began months ago.  

However, the French founder of Coocoonoo, a website that specializes in presents for newborn babies, didn’t think he should choose it himself.

“We wanted it to be a present from the French people rather than from an individual person or company," he explained.

To this end, in collaboration with famili.fr, a website offering advice to mothers-to-be, Dilasser set up an online competition on the website ‘Ensemble pour la couronne’ (‘Altogether for the crown’) inviting French people to vote on their favourite twelve toys.

They were asked to choose from a list of 30 items, all of which had been made in France.

Between June 20th and July 14th (Kate’s supposed due-date) more than 10,246 votes were cast and 1,235 congratulatory messages left.

The top three of the 12 winning gifts were: a guitar-shaped music box from a Toulouse-based business called ‘Barnabé Aime le Café’, a rubber giraffe called Sophie from a company called ‘Vulli’ in Rumily, and a toy car from ‘Vilac’ in Moirans-en-Montagne.

Sadly they remain in his hands.

Dilasser dismissed any suggestion that the French - who have lived in a Republic since 1789 - are not all that interested in the arrival of yet another British royal.

“People may say that it’s just a baby and that we’re making an unwarranted fuss, but the fact that over 10,000 people voted on our site is testament to the fact that the French really are interested,” he said.

Story continues below…

And he gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the name George - which he described as a ‘Franco-British’ name that works equally well in both languages.

Already, the latest addition to the royal family looks set to have one of the best-equipped playrooms in history as gifts fly in from all corners of the globe.

With presents ranging from knitted kangaroos to cradles and condoms, country leaders wasted no time before shipping over their offerings even before Prince George was born.

What Prince George will make of Dilasser's 'Made in France' gifts - if he gets them at all - remains to be seen.


Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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