Customs officers who stopped a man walking through the "nothing to declare" channel at Dusseldorf airport found that he had an 18-carat gold crown in his backpack worth nearly £3,000.

The man, 43, who has not been named and was an Iranian national, told customs officers the item was originally from Afghanistan and had been stored in Iran. He was taking it to Belgium as a wedding gift.

The crown which weighed 126 grams (4.4 oz), is thought to be worth €3,500 (£2,900). All items worth more than €430 (£359) are subject to import duty in Germany.

The passenger was also carrying 600 cigarettes, three times the 200 limit for travellers from non-EU countries arriving in Germany.

Criminal proceedings were initiated for "attempted fiscal evasion," The Local reported. However, because he immediately paid duty of €850 (£710), as well as a security deposit for an expected fine, the man was allowed to leave the airport, taking his crown - and cigarettes - with him.

The golden crown is not the most unusual item to be seized by customs officers at Dusseldorf. Others include snake and penguin skeletons, a stuffed Nile crocodile and a stuffed falcon wearing an SS cap. At Munich in 2008, two Italian women were stopped in possession of a human skeleton. When questioned, they revealed it was the remains of their father, who had died in Brazil 11 years before.

Elsewhere in the world, stranger still items have been found during random checks at airports. At Stansted a man was stopped for carrying an iPhone shaped like a gun.

Another passenger was found to be carrying 10 human eyeballs. In 2012, a man carrying a chainsaw was allowed to board his flight at New York's Elmira Corning Regional Airport, once he had drained away all the fuel.

Dusseldorf crown smuggling
A man who said he had nothing to declare at Dusseldorf airport was carrying an 18-karat gold crown Dusseldorf customs