July 11, 2015
It has been granted to Burberry, John Lobb and other companies as well: the „Royal Warrant“. The Royal Warrant is the official royal recognition of proven suppliers in Great Britain. The Danish Queen and the Swedish King have similar seals to mark their suppliers.
Today, in the United Kingdom there are three Royal Warrants. Queen Elizabeth II granted the most Warrants to tradespeople. Additionally, there are Royal Warrants granted by husband Prince Philipp (official name: The Duke of Edinburgh) and by the heir to the throne, Prince Charles (official name: The Prince of Wales). The Royal Warrant of The Queen Mother expired after her death. The procedure is strict: For five years the tradespeople have to do business with the palace to it’s confidence in order to get the right to apply.
The companies are forbidden to talk about the concrete business relationship and the delivered products or services. The Royal Warrant is granted for five years and the Warrant contains a general writing („By appointment to Her Majesty“) and a general description of the products or services (in case of D.R. Harris for example pharmacists and chemists). Thus many enterprises are very discrete and careful when it comes to the Royals. For sure, a Royal Warrant Holder has brilliant sales expectations.
I wanted to really understand what the Royal Warrant means. Thus, I talked to Secretary Richard Peck at the office of the Royal Warrant Holders Association in London. In the interview he explained, the companies do, although they got the right to use the coat of arms, use the Royal Warrant carefully in order to show their respect. There is a special law which governs the use of the Royal Warrant. The companies are allowed to display the Warrant on their products, premises and vehicles. In case a company looses the Warrant, they are granted a transition period to remove it.
Warrant Holders are ranging from Champagne houses to high tech companies. During Queen Victoria’s reign there were 2000 Warrant Holders, today there are around 800. The earliest document is the Royal Charter granted by King Henry II to weavers. In the 18th century tradespeople commenced to show the coat of arms on their premises. Quickly the requirements became stricter and abuse was successfully looked after.
The special circumstances of Great Britain are to be found in the Warrant as well. Her Majesty’s Royal Warrant looks different in Scotland. Even today the practice changes. Last year the Royal Warrant was granted only to a quarter of the applicants.
"A customer of a Royal Warrant Holder purchases a sustainable product“
Our photo assistant Christine put it in a nutshell after we excitedly visited a shoe factory in Northampton. The British Crown examines carefully the compliance with environmental standards and labour conditions. This trend increases in times of reports of problematic circumstances in the Third World. The heir to the throne Prince Charles focuses a lot on this. „The Prince of Wales is a keen advocate of sustainability“, Secretary Peck stresses in the interview with Men’s Individual Fashion.
Although it may sound very official, the Royal Warrant is a very personal issue. Many of the Royal Warrant Holders are small companies. In case an enterprise merges or gets acquired, there is danger that the enterprise looses the Royal Warrant for some time. The Royals like personal coherence and thus the Royal Warrant is not granted to the company itself but to an individual. At John Lobb bootmakers the senior John Hunter Lobb holds the Royal Warrant. Secretary Peck told us about this hangover from the old times: „Even today it is a very useful process, then you have somebody to pick up the phone and talk to about the Royal Warrant for whatever reason.“
A symbol of quality
What is the Royal Warrant all about? Richard Peck called it a „statement“. Formally the Warrant reflects the preferences of the Royal households. Peck particularized: „Especially in the export market, in Asia, people do know that the Royals want the best“. The Royal Warrant is a symbol of quality and sustainability. It is the embodiment of British tradition and innovation (see the interview). The Royal Warrant changed my attitude. In a German coffee shop I buy a biscuit box of the Scottish brand „Walkers“ as a gift for a female friend. My first concern is not the price, but whether this company was granted a Royal Warrant. Apart from that, I do, however, feel so much better in the morning because Prince Charles might use the same shaving soap as me.
The Royal Warrant, Part 2: Interview with Secretary Richard Peck, Royal Warrant Holders Association
Men’s Individual Fashion thanks Gieves & Hawkes, London, for the photo permission in their rooms in Savile Row No.1. We also thank Burberry, London, for contributing photo material.