In the autumn of 1914, the seventeen-year-old Princess Mary, the third child of King George V, started a public appeal to send every serving soldier and sailor a Christmas present.
“I want you now to help me to send a Christmas present from the whole of the nation to every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front. I am sure that we should all be happier to feel that we had helped to send our little token of love and sympathy on Christmas morning, something that would be useful and of permanent value, and the making of which may be the means of providing employment in trades adversely affected by the war. Could there be anything more likely to hearten them in their struggle than a present received straight from home on Christmas Day?
“Please will you help me?”
The total eventually subscribed amounted to £162,591 12s 5d, most of this coming from thousands of small gifts sent by ordinary people from all parts of the United Kingdom. It was enough to send more than two million gifts.
The boxes contained a variety of items such as tobacco, chocolate and writing materials. This example has survived and was donated to the Worcester City museum collection.