The League of Mercy was founded on 30th of March 1899 by Royal Charter of Queen Victoria. It was instigated by the Prince of Wales who became its first Grand President. Subsequently two further Princes of Wales (George V and Edward VIII) succeeded him in this office; finally HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester took over.
The object of the League was to establish a large body of voluntary workers who would assist with the maintenance of voluntary hospitals and 'otherwise relieve sickness and suffering'. When the 1948 National Health Act abolished these hospitals, the League was quietly wound up after performing its task extraordinarily well for nearly half a century.
Central to the annual activities of the League was a notable ceremony at which about fifty people each received a medal known as the Order of Mercy. These were bestowed 'as a reward for personal services gratuitously rendered in connection with the purposes for which the League was established'. At least one recipient is still alive!