Princess Anne is known for her no-nonsense approach to style. There are pieces in her wardrobe that she has worn over and over again at different times throughout her life, and she prefers British sporty heritage brands to anything haute couture.
In fact, just last week, she was photographed wearing a coat that belonged to her late mother, Queen Elizabeth II. So it’s no surprise that the royal was spotted carrying a handbag sold in, of all places, the gift shop at Ballymore Castle.
The Balmoral Blue Jura handbag, which costs £80.95, is still available to buy from the royal residence’s on-site store, and has been part of Anne’s accessories arsenal since at least September 2022.
It was during that month that she was seen wearing it often, at least four different times after the death of Queen Elizabeth II – perhaps a poignant nod to the place where her beloved mother died. She also wore it at the funeral of King Constantine II of Greece last January.
The bag is described on the castle website as “ideal for the woman on the go” with “a range of internal and external zipped pockets for easy access to your bits and pieces”.
That’s exactly the kind of practical piece we’ve teamed up with Anne. Crafted from leather by The Leather Guild and special Balmoral blue tweed fabric, the cross-body style can also be worn over the shoulder, with an adjustable strap.
While we can’t be sure if Anne browsed the gift shop herself or if the bag was given to her as a gift, one thing is for sure: there are real treasures to be found in gift shops across the UK.
Often stocking local artisan brands, and specially commissioned pieces, they’re a great place to find items that are a little different to what you might find on the rest of the high street, and, certainly, unlikely to you would see on. another person.
Here are some of The Telegraph’s favorite gift shops, for unexpected shopping.
Ballymore Castle, Aberdeenshire
Buy a star: Balmoral Blue Jura handbag, £80.95, balmoralcastle.com
Alongside the Princess Royal cross-body bag, there are other beautifully crafted accessories featuring the special Balmoral blue tweed, including pet collars, hats, scarves and purses. It’s also the perfect place to restock your whiskey cupboard.
Highcliffe Castle, Bournemouth
Highcliffe Castle’s gift shop has a constantly changing selection of items throughout the year. Stock up on local jams, honey, biscuits and tea from Dorset and Hampshire, as well as fun ceramics featuring notable women, British prime ministers and Shakespearean characters.
National Portrait Gallery, London
Buy a star: 1972 printed silk scarf, £95, Amelia Graham at store.co.uk
We’ll let you in on a fashion secret: the jewelery at the National Portrait Gallery gift shop is amazing. The pieces, exclusive to the store, were designed by jeweler Sophie Howard and include star and pearl stud earrings, crescent moon necklaces and even an Anne Boleyn-inspired ‘B’ pendant necklace.
Tate St Ives, Cornwall
Buy a star: Red and gold earrings, £90, Joan Miro at shop.tate.org.uk
The rugged landscape of Cornwall’s coast is a source of inspiration for the beautiful gifts available in the Tate St Ives shop, which sells greeting cards, prints and jewellery.
London Transport Museum, London
Buy a star: Moquette Pouffe, £300, ltmuseumshop.co.uk
Any design aficionado worth their salt will wax lyrical about the Art Deco inspired upholstery on the London Underground, imagined by textile designers Enid Marx, Marion Dorn and Paul Nash. Happily, you can buy soft furnishings and cushions in the iconic, colorful prints from the gift shop, alongside vintage posters from the likes of Man Ray.
Charleston House, Oxfordshire
Every inch of Charleston House, the former home of Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell, is hand-decorated, with colorful, joyful murals throughout. The same eclectic spirit is evident in the gift shop, which sells homeware, fabrics and lovely stationery.
The V&A, London
Buy a star: Ponderosa Socks, £20, vam.ac.uk/shop
You’re spoiled for choice at the V&A, which has three gift shops, including one dedicated to its fashion shows (a tote bag is a Gen Z status symbol here). Selling a range of design gems, expect to find many museum exclusives such as William Morris printed silk scarves, and Michael Michaud’s Lily of the Valley necklaces.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Buy a star: navy plaid scarf, £25, shop.chatsworth.org
The Duke of Devonshire’s magnificent family home is renowned for its impressive art collection. Not surprisingly, the shop celebrates the gift of local artists and makers. There is a beautiful selection of checked scarves and woolen blankets, as well as costume jewelery inspired by nature.
Sir John Soane Museum, London
The former home of the Victorian architect of the same name, the Sir John Soane Museum, is one of London’s hidden gems. You can support him by shopping his collection of unique pieces inspired by the archives, including scarves and jewellery. Every purchase helps to maintain the building.