This is a guest post.
Being a member of royalty entitles you to a life of luxury and leisure; one where extravagance is as every day as eating. Raised in regal surroundings, royalty are used to an environment of ostentation and grandeur. It is easy to understand why when a royal makes a gesture, it is equally grand as their upbringing. But some royal acts are so extravagant as to defy expectation.
6. Everybody Loves Obama
Barack Obama, the forty-fourth President of the United States, is extremely popular on the international scene. Receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts annually, Obama is particularly favored by the Saudi King Abdullah bin Adulaziz Al Saud, who gave him over $300,000 worth of goods in 2009 alone.
The list of royal riches Obama has received from the Saudi King includes a ruby and diamond jewelry set worth $132,000, a $14,200 pearl necklace, a $35,400 marble clock as well as watches, pens, earrings and cufflinks worth between $5000 and $9000.
The jewellery was a gift for his wife, we think. Source
5. Victoria’s Love Memorial
Queen Victoria was the longest ruling British Monarch in history with a reign that spanned over over 63 years. Three years after her coronation in 1837, Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As a couple, they were famous for their great love. During the course of their marriage they had nine children together. These children produced 34 grandchildren who married into the royal families of Europe, earning Victoria the nickname, “The Grandmother of Europe”.
Prince Albert died on 14 December 1861, leaving Victoria alone and devastated. She retired from public view and wore only black for the rest of her life. As a tribute to her beloved she commissioned the Albert Memorial. The memorial took over ten years to build at a cost of £120,000, which is the modern equivalent of £10,000,000—a touching gesture from a grieving widowed empress.
4. Islands as a Safety Deposit
The Orkney Islands are an archipelago in northern Scotland ten miles from the tip of the mainland Britain. These islands have been inhabited for over eight and a half thousand years and owned by numerous peoples during that time. They are currently part of Scotland, under the control of the British government.
Before the islands became part of Scotland, they were ruled by Norway for over 600 years. The Norwegians ceased to rule the Orkneys in 1468, when the then King, Christian I, pledged the islands to James III of Scotland as a security deposit on the dowry of his daughter, Margaret, to whom James was betrothed. Unfortunately for Christian, he couldn’t afford the dowry and his great gesture of faith proved hollow and the islands became the property of Scotland.
3. Catherine makes a Prince
Platon Zubov was Catherine the Great’s last lover before her death in 1796. Zubov’s distant cousin Nicholas Saltykov introduced him to the Empress when Zubov was 22 years old. When they met, the Empress was 60 years old, but was still renowned for her voracious sexual appetite and her constantly changing lovers. However, few people realised the hold the young Zubov was to have over her.
Before her death, Zubov managed to go from being an unknown aristocrat to the most powerful man in the Russian empire. Catherine showered Zubov with jewels, property land and titles. Within seven years, he was made a Count and then a “Reichsfurst”, or Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, becoming the fourth (and last) Russian to receive the title. Finally, upon the death of her previous lover, Alexandrovich Potemkin, Catherine made Zubov the Governor-General—the most powerful position in Russia. Source
2. Ashoka’s Pillars of Guilt
Ashoka the Great was an emperor who ruled almost all of India from 269 to 232 BC. He is considered one of India’s greatest rulers and controlled an empire that stretched from present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan in the west, to Bangladesh and Assam in the east. At the beginning of his reign, Ashoka concentrated on the expansion of his empire, which led to many large-scale wars and the deaths of thousands.
Later in life, his years of brutal conquest took their toll upon Ashoka and led to him seeking solace in religion, developing strong Buddhist beliefs. As a demonstration of his faith he commissioned the building of numerous pillars throughout his empire, each inscribed with a different proclamation of his belief. Only nineteen pillars survive today, but it is thought that Ashoka could have ordered hundreds to be created. These pillars were made of the finest sandstone and would have had to have been transported hundreds of miles across the Indian subcontinent to get to the various destinations chosen, a colossal undertaking and an extravagant gesture of faith.
1. Akbar loves Mecca
Akbar the Great was the third Mughal Emperor, reigning from 1542 to 1605. Famous for his liberal attitude to other religions, he held inter-faith debates among all the major doctrines of the period. Through these debates he developed his own religion, The Dīn-i Ilāhī (Divine Faith).
Akbar’s “Divine Faith” included the belief that Mecca is sacred, and because of this he made numerous extravagant gestures to the holy place as a display of his faith. During his reign, Akbar sent numerous caravans filled with precious metals, jewels and silks along with large contingents of pilgrims, including his own family. One such caravan included 600,000 gold and silver coins and 12,000 Kaftans of honor, which would today be worth over a billion dollars, an extravagant gesture of faith even by today’s standards.