One of the lesser known aspects of the accession and coronation of a new monarch is a change in the Royal Warrants of Appointment. These ancient documents permit a company to use the Royal Arms in connection with its business in an appointed trading capacity. Granted for up to five years at a time, they recognise a company’s continuing supply of goods or services to the Royal Household. Royal Warrants imbue everything from a greenhouse manufacturer or a shoe brand to a hotel or a farm with something of the grandeur, heritage and mystery of monarchy.
What Next for Royal Warrant Holders?
29th May 2023
Official recognition as a supplier to the Royal Household is an honour for businesses great and small. Simon Brooke introduces the Royal Warrants of Appointment and some of their proud holders.
His Majesty The King is known as a Grantor, as was his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and his father, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. With the death of The Queen, Royal Warrants granted by her and the former Prince of Wales, now The King, are under review. There is a two-year period of grace following the death of a Grantor during which a Grantee — a company or individual that has received a Royal Warrant — may continue to use the Royal Arms while making plans to phase out stock and branding bearing those crests. So, for instance, Royal Warrants granted by Prince Philip, who died in 2021, cease this year.
Ever since Reginald de Thunderley, an immigrant to London who supplied what are described in historical records as 14 striped “clothes” to be turned into uniforms for the servants of Queen Margaret in the year 1300, a select and eclectic band of merchants and manufacturers have been granted Royal Warrants.
Today it’s the Royal Warrant Holders Association, founded in 1840, and not part of the Royal Household, that acts as gatekeeper to the process, managing applications for new Royal Warrants and initiating amendments to the more than 800 that already exist.
One reason why a Royal Warrant is such an honour is that it remains the personal gift of the monarch. Originally it was a way of recognising and thanking a tradesperson for their service at a time when knighthoods and peerages weren’t thought to be appropriate. Talk to any member of the Association and you soon realise that being able to display the Royal Arms, thanks to a Royal Warrant, is still a great badge of honour for a company and it has positive associations for employees as well as customers.
The fact that the transition of Royal Warrants from one monarch to the next isn’t automatic offers each one the opportunity to consider what their grants will say about them to their subjects.
For The King, the importance of issues such as sustainability, helping small businesses and promoting traditional skills is already clear from his choice of Royal Warrants as Prince of Wales. Now the monarch is crowned, that’s one tradition that seems set to continue.
The Ritz Hotel London
The Ritz is the only hotel in the world to hold a Royal Warrant from the former Prince of Wales. General Manager Sal Gowili (pictured above) remembers when the King paid a private visit to the hotel in December 2020.
“The hospitality industry had been through one of the toughest moments, and The Prince of Wales (as he was then) wanted to meet the hotel staff to hear about how they had been managing during the lockdowns.
He came behind the scenes with me and spoke to many colleagues from housekeeping, the kitchen, restaurant and concierge teams. It was brilliantly motivating for us all.”
Laphroaig considers its Royal Warrant to be very special, particularly as it was granted in part, the company believes, to mark the distillery’s early advancements in sustainable practices. “Across the world, our Royal Warrant continues to spark conversation and add an extra layer of intrigue to those discovering Laphroaig,” the company states.
As Duke of Rothesay, The King visited the distillery most recently in 2015, on its 200th anniversary. Laphroaig marked the occasion with a limited-edition 15 Year Old Single Malt Laphroaig and a charitable auction of bottles and casks of 40 Year Old whisky, all signed by The King to support the community and environment of Islay.
Greenzone Cleaning and Support Services
The mission of GreenZone Cleaning & Support Services is to ensure that every action that it undertakes revolves around social, economic and environmental sustainability, leaving a positive legacy on the planet. The Royal Warrant is testament to His Majesty’s interest in the practical solutions to environmental challenges.
The company says: “The ultimate external verification of being positive disrupters within our sector, it has proven to be a valuable testament of our excellence and a real unique selling point when talking to prospective clients. The positivity that the visual recognition the Warrant gives is tangible for our staff.”
Denhay Farms LTD
“A Royal Warrant represents a huge endorsement of the quality of the bacon we produce,” says James Loescher, Managing Director of Denhay Farms Ltd. As Prince of Wales, The King visited what was then the farm production facility in 2003.
The company’s methods are time-honoured, from traditional dry curing by hand and smoking through to the maturing and tempering of the final product. Loescher adds: “without question, the association with such an internationally important institution is held with an enormous amount of pride by all our staff. Each order received to supply the Royal Household injects a real energy and excitement throughout the team.”
A fifth-generation family firm, Barbour’s classic wax jackets and outerwear are still manufactured and repaired by hand in South Shields, and are exported around the world.
“The Warrants are important to our international markets as they are recognised as a mark of prestige and quality around the world, from the United States and throughout Europe to Asia,” says Dame Margaret Barbour, the company’s Chairman.
The King visited the Barbour factory in November 2021, to open the Wax for Life Workshop. “It was an opportunity for us", says Barbour,"to showcase all the initiatives we undertake to extend the life of a Barbour wax jacket."
Jen Jones Welsh Quilts and Blankets
An American who has lived in the UK for over 50 years, Jen Jones has dedicated much of her private and her professional life to saving and promoting the ancient art of Welsh quilt making, from her small store in the market town of Llanybydder.
She describes the awarding of a Royal Warrant as “wonderful”, and adds: “We often see tourists having their photographs taken under the coat of arms outside our cottage shop.”As Prince of Wales, His Majesty was closely involved in the Cambrian Mountains Initiative, a wide-ranging project that promotes rural enterprise, while protecting the environment.
Jones says His Majesty is a great supporter of traditional skills and crafts, and an appreciator of antique Welsh quilts, finite commodities that are very much a part of the visual heritage of Wales.