The Strange Wedding Gift Boris Johnson Gave To Prince William And Catherine

Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is known for plenty of things, not the least of which is his colorful — and sometimes unusual — personality. Before he was prime minister, Johnson was mayor of London, a position he held from 2008 to 2016. During his tenure, one of the biggest events in the city's recent history took place: the highly publicized wedding of Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton. The event saw around a million people line the streets of London between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace to witness their special day. 

As royal observers at the time will remember, the 2011 wedding between the heir to the throne and his bride was a lavish affair — costing an estimated $45.8 million overall, of which an estimated $157,000 was for flowers alone. As such, there were many gifts for the happy couple, including one given by the then-mayor. And, some would say, like Boris himself, the gift was rather unconventional, and a strange one at that.

Boris Johnson gave William and Kate a tandem bicycle

It turns out that, while mayor of London, Boris Johnson had a rather unorthodox way of celebrating the much-anticipated wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Although the royal couple kindly requested donations be made to charities in place of traditional wedding gifts  — even setting up a charitable gift fund to facilitate the process — the eccentric mayor, who was a guest, decided to make an exception.

According to Express, Johnson gifted William and Kate a tandem bicycle, a nod to his "Boris Bike" initiative. Apparently, the bicycle was not a personal gift from Johnson per se but rather from the people of London. "I look forward to seeing the newlyweds on tandem wheels as they start their new life in Anglesey," Johnson said upon unveiling the gift, a reference to the island off the northern coast of Wales wherein the then-duke and duchess resided around the time of their marriage. 

The gift didn't go to waste. About a year later, in 2012, Kate reportedly told Johnson privately that she and her husband had ridden the tandem bicycle in their garden. "[Kate] said she likes the tandem bike that he sent her," a source told the Times. "They have not tried using it on the roads but play on it in the garden."

Boris Bikes was one of Johnson's major initiatives

As London residents will remember, during the early 2010s, the bicycle Boris Johnson gifted to Prince William and Kate Middleton for their wedding was fitting for the time. In July 2010, he introduced Santander Cycles (formerly Barclays Cycle Hire), colloquially known within the city as "Boris Bikes." As of 2022, over 100 million journeys had been made using the bicycles, and research in 2013 showed that almost half of Boris Bike users likely wouldn't have ridden bicycles without the program. 

In fact, among the early adopters of the "Boris Bike" was William and Kate themselves. Although they may not have been spotted in public with the specific tandem bicycle gifted to them by Johnson, they were spotted numerous times in late 2011 riding throughout London on the free bicycles provided by the city. A spokesman told the Daily Mail at the time, "the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge occasionally use the London cycle scheme bicycles to undertake private journeys around London." 

This came only days after Johnson said in a radio interview that he heard rumors of certain British royal family members using it. "I don't know for certain, but I was told that members of the royal family do use them," he said.