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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
She was granted the title Princess Royal in 1935 and lived at Harewood house until her death in 1965.
You may recall that Princess Beatrice visited Harewood House as part of the Olympic torch relay in June of 2011.
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.
As you know, he really stirred the pot by abdicating 13 years later and marrying Wallis Simpson.
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.
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.
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?
- Christmas cards from Monaco, including pictures of Albert and Caroline as toddlers
- Prince Charles and Camilla have given out some charming christmas cards over the years
- Just like Charles and Diana did from 1981 to 1991
- The Wales’ cards from 1991 – 1996 were a bit different
- The Swedish Royals have sent out some lovely ones
- Christmas cards from the Queen, the Yorks, and the Wessexes