The Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace last weekend showcased over 200 Royal Warrant holders. But what are Royal Warrants and how does a company obtain one?
According to the Royal Warrant Holders Association, Royal Warrants of Appointment are “a mark of recognition of those who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.” Royal Warrants can currently only be granted by these three Royals. Reportedly, Diana, Princess of Wales, thought it disappointing that she could not reward her favourite and loyal suppliers with her own Royal Warrant.
Royal Warrants should also show that the holder has high levels of service, quality and excellence, and are highly prized. There are currently around 800 Royal Warrant holders, who include traditional craftspeople and global multinationals.
The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales do not personally hand out Royal Warrants, instead, they must be applied for. Applications are made once a year, around the end of May, and the Royal Warrant Holders Association deals with this. The applicant must have supplied goods or services to one of the three Royals for a minimum of five years. Royal Warrants are granted, usually for five years, to a named individual only, not to a company. The individual must be “the Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director, Sole Proprietor or the holder of a senior management appointment with direct access to the Board of Directors. This person, the Grantee, is personally responsible for ensuring the Royal Warrant is used correctly.”
When a Royal Warrant has been granted, the company may display the relevant Royal Arms (ie, that of the Queen, Duke or Prince) with the words ‘By Appointment’ on their product, stationery, buildings, vehicles, advertising and packaging. This explains why you may see more than one Royal Warrant being used by a company – if more than one of the three Royals uses the company’s products or services. There are strict rules on using and displaying the Royal Arms.
Harrods when it still displayed its four Royal Warrants
As Royal Warrants are so highly prized, it is unusual for one to be given up. Exactly this happened in 2000, however. Harrods, then owned by Mohamed al-Fayed, chose to take down all its Royal Warrants. At the time, it had Warrants for serving the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The Duke had not wished to continue to grant Harrods his Warrant, but the shop was allowed to continue displaying the Royal Warrants for the Queen and Prince of Wales for another year before expiry. However, Mr al-Fayed said that since neither Royal had shopped in Harrods for several years, displaying the Warrants would be “totally misleading and hypocritical.” The removal of the Warrants meant that Harrods’ packaging, stationery and vehicles all had to be redesigned or repainted. Mr al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, was killed in the Paris car crash in 1997 which also claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. One year before Royal Warrants are due to expire, they are automatically reviewed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Committee. The Grantee must provide evidence of the goods and services they have continued to supply to ‘their Royal’ over the past five years. If the Grantee “dies or leaves the business, or if the company goes into liquidation or is sold and as a consequence the company name is changed”, the Royal Warrant will again be reviewed.Royal Warrants of a kind have been granted for many years. “Henry VIII appointed Thomas Hewytt to ‘Serve the Court with Swannes and Cranes’ and ‘all kinds of Wildfoule’” and The Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 was largely put together by Royal Tradesmen. “Charles II’s 1684 list of Royal tradesmen included a Sword Cutter, an Operator for the Teeth, and a Goffe-club Maker.” Showing how Royal tastes have changed, “among the tradesmen supplying the Royal Household in 1789 were a pin maker, a mole taker, a card maker and a rat catcher.”
“In the late 18th Century Royal tradesmen began displaying the Royal Arms on their premises and stationery. But it was Queen Victoria who ensured that Royal Warrants gained the prestige they enjoy today. During her 64 year reign The Queen and her family granted more than 1,000 Royal Warrants, eight times as many as The Queen’s uncle, King George IV. They included companies such as Fortnum & Mason, Schweppes and Twinings, which still hold Royal Warrants today.”
With thanks to the Royal Warrant Holders Association for the information