Approximately 800 companies hold a Royal Warrant in recognition of the goods and services they provide to the three most senior royals. But the sad news of the Queen’s passing changes things. Traditionally Royal Warrants become void following the death of the royal who granted them, although brands can continue to display the coat of arms for two years. Here we look back at some of the companies that have been granted a Royal Warrant during the Queen’s reign.
Royal Warrant Holders: A Guide & List of Famous Companies
What Is A Royal Warrant?
Royal Warrants have been granted for centuries as a way of recognising the brands that have supplied goods to senior royals. The monarch decides who can grant them, and during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, grantors were HRH The Prince of Wales and the late Duke of Edinburgh, alongside the Queen herself.
How Do You Get A Royal Warrant?
The criteria for qualification is notoriously strict. Even the newest warrant holders will have been used regularly by the household for at least five years – a fact that will have been stringently checked by the Association of Royal Warrant Holders’ selection committee. The select trusted brands are permitted to display the Royal Arms of the relevant household on their packaging – or all three. The practice of awarding warrants began in 1155, when Henry II granted the Weavers’ Company a Royal Charter. Companies have sought royal favour ever since.
When Will King Charles III Start Granting Royal Warrants?
King Charles’ decision on Royal Warrants is yet to be confirmed, but he is likely to maintain the system as it is, which means new Royal Warrants will be awarded in 2024. During his time as the Prince of Wales, King Charles granted around 180 Royal Warrants, which will stay in place rather than expire two years after the late Queen’s passing due to the fact that Royal Warrants are associated with the household rather than the title.
While Charles could choose to maintain the late Queen’s Warrant choices, it has been suggested that he might choose instead to strip companies of their Royal Warrants if he feels they are not adequately addressing climate change, and award new Warrants to companies that he feels are paving the way toward sustainable practice in their associated industries. That said, it remains unclear whether such a decision would be perceived as too political (rather than the neutrality a monarch is supposed to represent).
Likewise, because Charles granted Royal Warrants as the Prince of Wales and the late Prince Phillip also granted Warrants – meaning companies could use the seal of approval of the Prince of Wales or the Duke of Edinburgh respectively – we might see two new Royal Warrant grantors in the future: William, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Queen Consort.
Brands That Were Granted a Royal Warrant During the Queen’s Reign
Ever since Her Majesty left her wedding in 1947 wearing a pair of soft fabric Cornelia James gloves, she remained loyal to the East Sussex-based glovemaker. ‘When you see her black car pulling away and the white gloved hand at the window, that’s one of ours,’ said Andrew Lawson, managing director of the company, which was set up by the late Cornelia James in the Forties. ‘She’s clearly very forward thinking as gloves are the most transformative accessory: they add drama and spectacle, and you catch fewer colds.’
Berry Bros & Rudd
Wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, which holds two, has held a Royal Warrant for more than two centuries.
Explaining the difficulties involved in being awarded a Royal Warrant, Nick Crean of chocolatier Prestat, maker of the Queen Mother’s favourite rose and violet creams, recently revealed that: ‘There was some debate as to whether she bought enough of our chocolates to qualify for a warrant but this was only because she was given so many,’ explains Nick, who was awarded the Queen Mother’s warrant in 1999. ‘She eventually asked how many chocolates she’d have to eat before we qualified. We received her warrant in her centenary year.’
He also spoke of the impressive variety of the chosen brands: ‘It’s the most fascinating group of people,’ says Nick. ‘At Warrant Holders’ events there’ll be horse feed merchants, champagne houses and royal rat catchers all in one room.’
The royal households are exacting customers, there’s no question, but they do appreciate the efforts of their warrant holders. Nick was reminded of this a few years ago when he was a little late in sending out the four pound Easter egg he would craft for Her Majesty each year. ‘I received a frantic call from a lady-in-waiting asking what had happened to it,’ he says. ‘At first I thought it was a friend playing a joke but when they asked me to get it to Windsor, I jumped to it.’
Nick knows as well as any other warrant holder that it’s essential not to step out of line. Every five years warrants are reviewed and they can be discontinued or cancelled. ‘As a hallmark of quality, it makes us continually assess how we conduct our business,’ Nick says. ‘But it can only be a good thing to be kept on your toes.’
Swaine Adeney Brigg
The list features a large number of artisans – the Queen’s whip maker, Swaine Adeney Brigg, for example, who is also King Charles’s umbrella maker.
Florist Judy Reid spends many hours each year arranging floral displays in the flower room at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Yet, even after holding a warrant for seven years, she still feels apprehensive about the responsibility of working in the palace. ‘Flowers are a living thing, so you can never fully relax,’ she says. ‘I worry if they’re going to be out on time; if they’re going to last. And I can’t trust the Scottish weather when it comes to the displays for the garden parties.’
Piano tuner Gordon Bell finds his ventures into the royal circle equally daunting. He has his car valeted before turning up at Balmoral.
Adrian Button, of Button’s Saddlery, who was granted Her Majesty’s warrant for saddlery and riding wear, gets butterflies in his stomach when he delivers a new saddle to the stables at Windsor Castle. ‘You have to remember where you are,’ he says. ‘There’s a tendency around horses to treat everyone the same.’
Over the last decade the selection committee has become increasingly concerned that holders demonstrate sound ethical and sustainable principles. Adrian Button, who set up the business with his wife Sheila 43 years ago and has kitted out the first ponies of several royal family members, uses recycled leather to make his tack, while Judy is meticulous about composting the waste leftover from her floral displays.
Walcot Organic Nursery
One of King Charles’s newest warrant holders is Walcot Organic Nursery in Worcestershire, whose organic fruit trees are thriving in the orchards at Highgrove. ‘An initial purchase became a bi-annual thing, so we must have been doing something right,’ says Kevin O’Neill, a passionate horticulturalist, who founded the company 15 years ago. ‘Growing organic fruit trees has its challenges but it’s wonderful for a sustainable company to have been recognised alongside so many larger companies.’
Surprisingly for some, there are some less posh, more ‘high street’ brands on the list too. Baked beans and ketchup purveyor Heinz holds the Queen’s Warrant, as do Kellogg’s, Samsung and Car Phone Company. It’s also proof that the Royals aren’t exempt from the mundane expenses – and irritations – of any household: pest controllers, gas suppliers, mechanics and cleaners are all on the list.
As well as providing exemplary service, a warrant holder must be discreet – never divulging details of their business with the royals. All companies are thoroughly vetted and security checks performed on those passing through the gates of a royal household.
Other companies granted a Royal Warrant during the Queen’s reign include:
- Green Fuels, which makes biodiesel out of waste cooking oil.
- Burberry, renowned for its iconic trench coat, was granted a Royal Warrant in 1955.
- Inverawe for its smoked salmon.
- Halcyon Days for its objets d’art.
- Louis Roederer for Champagne.
- Elizabeth Arden was Her Majesty’s warrant for cosmetics.
- Floris for perfume.
- Ettinger for leather goods.
- William & Son for gold and silversmithing.
- Barbour for raincoats.
- Hunter for wellies, of course.
- Gordon’s and Tanqueray for gin.
- Laphroaig, Dewar’s and Johnnie Walker are the three whisky distillers with a Royal Warrant.
- Bentley for cars.