The gift, containing tea and biscuits, is intended to ensure that each recipient from the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force will be able to join the rest of the nation in celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee over the extended weekend from 2 to 5 June 2012.
A total of 15,000 tins left in January bound for servicemen and women across the world, so that they would arrive in good time for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The United Services Tin was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 1 March 2012 during a visit to Fortnum and Mason in London.
Fortnum and Mason has worked closely with the MOD to create the United Services Tin which is in white and is decorated in Fortnum’s signature ‘eau de nil’ and the insignia of each Service. It contains Fortnum’s Queen Anne Blend tea and clotted cream digestive biscuits.
The inside of the lid is inscribed with the legend:
Since 1707, Fortnum and Mason has been honoured to serve loyal subjects of the Crown. This offering, to serving military personnel on active service, is a token of our esteem for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Her Armed Forces on the occasion of the Sovereign’s Diamond Jubilee.
A card, giving highlights of the Piccadilly store’s historic links with the British Armed Forces, is also enclosed.
The tea chosen for the servicemen and women to enjoy is Queen Anne Blend, which reflects the history of Fortnum and Mason. Queen Anne was on the throne when Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason went into business in 1707. In addition, each tin contains six biscuits individually stamped with ‘F&M’.
A quantity of tins are being offered for sale at Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, with a £1 donation from each sale going to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help, a charity that supports serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and the families of both.
The Jubilee tins were packed by disabled employees at the home of the Enham Trust charity, which was founded in 1918 under the patronage of King George V and Queen Mary to rehabilitate servicemen wounded in the First World War. The charity, which is based in the village of Enham Alamein in Hampshire, now helps around 4,500 disabled adults with their care, housing, training and work needs, enabling them to lead independent lives.
Fortnum and Mason supplied food delicacies to soldiers during the Crimean War, as part of The Times newspaper’s fundraising drive to give treats to the Other (non-officer) Ranks. The origin of sending tinned gifts to troops began with Queen Victoria, who sent chocolate at Christmas to the men fighting in South Africa. In 1914, her great-granddaughter, Princess Mary, headed a fund to send tins of chocolate and tobacco to men fighting on the Western Front. Ever since, the tradition of supplying a small taste of home to those fighting in far off lands has been part of the British way of life.