Inside the Prestigious World of Royal Warrants

Last Updated: June 11, 2024By

A Peek into the Royal Shopping List

When you first glance at the list of prestigious brands, it feels like looking at the wedding gift registry of a super-rich, quirky person.

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Imagine this: Moët & Chandon is just one of eight fancy champagnes you might find chilling in an ice bucket on a beautiful Steinway piano. Then, for fashion, there’s the classy trench coat from Burberry, custom suits from the Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes, and Lamont Sporrans for when only the finest Highland dress will do.

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But wait, there’s more. Look closer, and you’ll see some practical stuff, too: Crystal Light Chandeliers to “solve all your chandelier worries,” Asbestos Removals, and even Event-A-Loo. Suddenly, it all makes sense. These are the hundreds of suppliers needed to keep a castle or two running smoothly.

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However, there’s a big change happening. The list of nearly 750 companies with royal warrants from either the late Queen Elizabeth II or King Charles when he was Prince of Wales is getting a major update. A royal warrant becomes void after the death of the grantor, meaning companies have to reapply if they want to keep saying they provide goods or services “by appointment to” a senior royal.

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A Year After the Coronation

A year after King Charles’s coronation – even with recent health concerns in the royal family, like the king’s cancer diagnosis – this massive review, overseen by the Royal Warrant Holders Association, is well underway.

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King Charles is currently reviewing applications from the 172 companies that had warrants from him when he was Prince of Wales and now want one from him as king. Decisions on these are expected by the end of the month.

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Next, attention turns to the 578 companies with warrants from the late queen, including high-end grocer Fortnum & Mason and the late Queen Mother’s favorite drink, Dubonnet. Application packs have already gone out, with answers expected in the autumn.

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New Opportunities

For companies hoping to gain the royal nod for the first time and get patronage from Queen Camilla, brand-new applications for warrants from the king and queen will open soon. However, the new awards won’t be given out until 2025.

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The History of Royal Warrants

The royal warrant tradition dates back to medieval times when everyone wanted royal favor. It became formalized in the 15th century, but it really took off in the 19th century as a way to promote British businesses worldwide. Queen Victoria granted a whopping 2,000 warrants during her 63-year reign.

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Craig Beaumont from the Federation of Small Businesses says companies are proud to display the royal arms, especially those selling overseas.

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Wilkin & Sons, the Essex jam maker behind the Tiptree brand, hopes to keep a long tradition alive by applying for a warrant from the king. They’ve had a warrant since George V in 1911, and they’re eager to continue.

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Scott Goodfellow, joint managing director of Wilkin & Sons, says a royal warrant “has always been the best indicator of quality and service, recognized by customers both at home and across the globe.”

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The Royal Stamp of Approval

Warrants are granted only to those who have provided paid-for goods or services to the royal household for at least five years. They can use the royal arms on their packaging, advertising, premises, and vehicles. A warrant usually lasts five years and is reviewed before it expires.

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Chris Jones, managing director of Corgi Hosiery in Wales, hopes to hear back soon about whether King Charles will turn the warrant he granted as Prince of Wales into a king’s warrant. “The warrant is very important to our business, especially in export markets like China and Japan,” Jones says. “It shows top quality and is something unique on our socks.”

The Fine Print

But the royal seal comes with strings attached. Discretion is key, and around 20 to 40 warrants are canceled each year, with a similar number of new ones granted. For instance, Benson & Hedges lost its warrant in 1999 because of “a lack of demand in royal households.”

More recently, lingerie retailer Rigby & Peller lost its warrant in 2018, supposedly because director June Kenton revealed details about her work with the royals in her book Storm in a D Cup. The book didn’t spill much royal underwear intrigue, just the queen’s worry about rain during a garden party and some posters given to Princess Diana’s sons.

Environmental Concerns

The warrant review after the queen’s death has made some companies nervous, especially fashion brands worried about proving their environmental credentials to the king. While sustainability has always been important, applicants now need to show efforts towards net zero.

“It’s good the warrants are being reassessed,” one applicant said. “Some big UK brands no longer manufacture here, so they might lose their warrants. It should be for proper UK companies.”

The Royal Stamp: More Than Just a Mark

The royal warrant isn’t just a mark of quality – it’s a significant business asset. It’s especially valuable for British companies selling overseas, and with Prince William issuing his warrant next year, the excitement continues to build.

In the end, the royal seal is more than just an honor; it’s a tradition that carries weight and history, and for the companies that earn it, it’s a badge of pride and quality recognized worldwide.

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Inside the Prestigious World of Royal Warrants

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