Finnish state sends baby box to British Prince William and Kate

HELSINKI Wed Jul 3, 2013 4:53pm BST

Britain's Prince William leaves the King Edward VII hospital with his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, London December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Britain's Prince William leaves the King Edward VII hospital with his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, London December 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate now have something else in common with every expectant parent in Finland: A box of baby goods from Finnish state social services agency Kela.

Kela sent the box, which also doubles as a crib for many Finnish infants, to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the last month. The duchess is expecting their first child in the next few weeks. It will be third in line to the throne.

All expectant Finnish mothers receive a box from Kela filled with baby clothes and equipment or an offer of 140 euros (118.01 pounds). Most take the box, which also often serves as baby's first bed as it comes with a mattress, a sheet and a sleeping bag.

"We sent it to them, because we are so proud of this Finnish social innovation," Kela's director general Liisa Hyssala said.

The maternity packages were first sent to poor mothers in 1938 to fight high infant mortality rates in the Nordic country, but since 1949 all mothers have been entitled to it.

Kela delivers about 40,000 boxes every year.

A similar box - which contains clothes, cloth diapers and other baby gear - also was sent to Sweden's Princess Victoria last year for the birth of her daughter Princess Estelle.

(Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen, editing by Paul Casciato)

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