British Royal Christmas Cards: 1911 – 1944

Our last post covered some of the Christmas cards that various British Royals have sent out since 1950, and today we are jumping back a little farther in history. Feast your eyes on some truly vintage christmas cards sent out by British royals over the years.

1911

This is the card oldest card we’ve been able to dig up so far. It was sent by Princess Beatrice, the youngest child of Queen Victoria, in 1911 and read “Christmas Greetings and every Good Wish for the Coming Year”.

Princess Beatrice (via )
Princess Beatrice (via thematics4u)

This card comes from the estate of Lady Southampton, who was one of Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting from 1878 to 1901. It is currently being auctioned off over at thematics4u.com, and could be yours for 195 pounds.

A Photograph of Beatrice & Victoria inexplicably under an umbrella (via Wikipedia)
A Photograph of Beatrice & Victoria inexplicably under an umbrella (via Wikipedia)

Beatrice served as a devoted companion to Queen Victoria, and even edited all of her journals for publication, a task that she spent 30 years on. By 1911, Beatrice was widowed (she was married to Prince Henry of Battenberg from 1885 until his death 1896) and was living at Osborn Cottage on the Isle of White. The cottage is now a care home.

1914: A card & Christmas box from Princess Mary

This next card was sent by Princess Mary, the 17-year old daughter of King George and Queen Mary, in 1914 (which makes her the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II).  The card included her formal portrait along with her royal cypher, an “M” topped with a coronet.

Princess Mary's Christmas Card (via )
Princess Mary’s Christmas Card (via British Light Infantry Regiments)

That year she also sent out this brass box as a Christmas gift to all the troops serving in WWI. If you look closely you can see her silhouette, two M’s and “Christmas 1914.”

A Christmas card sent to troops from King George along with a gift box from Princess Mary (via Daily Mail)
A Christmas card sent to troops from King George along with a gift box from Princess Mary (via Daily Mail)

The website Kinnethmont.com explains how this unique card and gift came to be:

In November 1914, an advertisement was placed in the national press inviting monetary contributions to a ‘Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund’ which had been created by Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a ‘gift from the nation’.

The response was truly overwhelming, and it was decided to spend the money on an embossed brass box, based on a design by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey. The contents varied considerably; officers and men on active service afloat or at the front received a box containing a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers. Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolate. Many of these items were despatched separately from the tins themselves, as once the standard issue of tobacco and cigarettes was placed in the tin there was little room for much else apart from the greeting card.

More than 355,000 boxes were delivered before Christmas that year.

Princess Mary married Henry, Viscount Lascelles the heir to Earl Harewood in 1922  and eventually became Countess Harewood.

Wedding Day 1922
Wedding Day 1922 (via Wikipedia)

She was granted the title Princess Royal in 1935 and lived at Harewood house until her death in 1965.

Princess Mary with Harewood House in the background (via Architectural Digest)
Princess Mary with Harewood House in the background (via Architectural Digest)

You may recall that Princess Beatrice visited Harewood House as part of the Olympic torch relay in June of 2011.

Princess Beatrice on the steps of Harewood House (via Harewood House blog)
Princess Beatrice on the steps of Harewood House (via the official Harewood House blog)

And now that I have gotten completely off topic, it’s time to return to more royal Christmas cards.

1923: Prince Edward

This 1923 Christmas card from Mary’s older brother Prince Edward came up for auction recently. At this time, Edward was Prince of Wales and was a bit of a party animal.

Charming (via )
Charming (via Nate P. Sanders Monthly Auctions )

As you know,  he really stirred the pot by abdicating 13 years later and marrying Wallis Simpson.

Wallis and Edward
Wallis and Edward (via Nothing Tra La La)

1938

Skipping ahead to 1938, this card was sent by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and included their two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. The setting is suitably grand, I’d say.

Marcus Adams (via Stalking the Belle Epoque)
Marcus Adams (via Stalking the Belle Epoque)

1944

Finally, this wartime card was sent in 1944 by the King and Queen to the Dean of Windsor. The photo was taken at Buckingham Palace and includes teenagers Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth.

(via  )
(via Asahi)

Hope you enjoyed this little step back in time. Just a few more days until Christmas!

Here’s a round up of all our christmas card posts so far. Any requests for other royal family christmas cards that we’ve not covered yet?

3 Replies to “British Royal Christmas Cards: 1911 – 1944”

  1. So enjoyed this post – loved that you were able to locate all of these older Christmas cards! What a great idea of Princess Mary to have the ‘gift from the nation’ to WWI troops.

    1. I know! What a lovely recognition and interesting sign of the times – they were so optimistic that the war would be over soon that they used sooo much brass to make the boxes. Thanks so much for your comment.

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