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Getting the royal seal of approval

15 June 2012 by
Getting the royal seal of approval

What exactly is a royal warrant, how do you get one, and how can it benefit your business in real terms? Emily Manson reports

What is a royal warrant?
A royal warrant is a mark of recognition that an individual or company has supplied goods or services to the royal family for at least five years. The earliest known royal warrant dates back to 1155 and it has since become an unparalleled mark of excellence and quality.

Who can grant them?
Currently only three people - the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.

How many are there?
Around 850 royal warrants have been granted, spanning all walks of industry life: from artisan producers to multinational companies.

What does it mean?
Royal warrants allow the grantee or company to use the words ‘By Appointment' on the relevant royal coat of arms and be added to company materials like stationery, advertisements and delivery vehicles.

Richard Peck, secretary for the Royal Warrant Holders Association, says companies take pride in warrants as they signify that for five years a company has maintained excellent quality and service levels.

He adds: "A warrant brings value to a brand, particularly in the export market. There's a huge amount of patriotism at the moment and the royal family is enjoying a massive surge in popularity. With the increase in their standing, so the brand value of warrants increases too. "It's more readily recognised abroad, though, in the Far East, USA, China and the Commonwealth where many people think it's the best thing since sliced bread and go wild over it."

How to get one
A company must have supplied its product to one of the royal family for at least five years. An application can then be made, which will be considered at the annual Royal Household Tradesmen's Warrants Committee meeting, chaired by the Lord Chamberlain. They will judge the product on quality and standard of service.

If the committee agrees with the application, a recommendation is made to the head of the relevant royal household. The final decision is made by the appropriate member of the royal family. A warrant is normally granted for 10 years, after which it is automatically reviewed. The warrant holder must, however, re-register annually.

You can only apply once a year to the Royal Warrant Holders Association. This year's deadline was in May; for details on next year's deadline e-mail assistant secretary Pippa Dutton at pippa@rwha.co.uk

What difference does it make?
Mosimann's, London - granted in 2000 by the Prince of Wales
Royal warrant holder - Anton Mosimann
"I am immensely proud of the royal warrant and of the fact we have cooked for four generations of the royal family.

"Prince Charles has always been ahead of his time when it comes to organic produce and food miles; two aspects that I too care passionately about and have long incorporated into the ethos of the company, and these ethics are reflected in the granting of our warrant.

"It really means a great deal to me as well as to all of my team and is recognition of the fact that we provide an exemplary service and that we will always go the extra mile, not only for Prince Charles, but for all of those that use us."

The Ritz - granted in 2002 by the Prince of Wales
Royal warrant holder - Stephen Boxall, managing director, the Ritz
"The proprietors and all members of our staff are extremely proud of this association. The Ritz has been serving members of the royal family for many years since its opening in 1906 and we feel particularly honoured to be the only hotel ever to have been accorded a royal warrant."

Prestat Chocolates - granted in 1975 by the Queen
Royal warrant holder - Nick Crean, co-owner and chairman, Prestat
"Prestat is the only chocolate business to have had the honour of holding two royal warrants - from the Queen Mother, as well as the Queen. The royal warrant is a wonderful connection and endorsement of our business. It has been a huge help in growing our exports all around the world. The Americans are overwhelmed that that the Queen really does eat our chocolates, and the Japanese fall into an extended state of bowing. There is no other association so totally egalitarian."

Donatantonio - granted in 2001 by the Queen
Royal warrant holder - Simon Bell, chief executive, Donatantonio
"To us, it is a great source of pride. It sets us apart from our competitors - seeing the royal warrant displayed on our products undeniably says they are top quality. Could one ask for a better endorsement for quality and service? I think not. The warrant represents a lot of what is still best about Britain: pride in the product; commitment to quality; and good service. It's a unique club that has benefits for the members and their customers - we've pretty much signed a pledge to be the best of the best."

Royal warrant holders

Among the 850 warrant holders are over 200 hospitality-related businesses, suppliers and producers including

3663 granted in 1955 by the Queen.

Unilever (Colman's mustard powder) granted in 1964 by the Queen.

Heinz granted in 1951 by the Queen.

Fortnum & Mason has held a number of warrants dating back nearly 150 years. In 1863 it was appointed grocer to the Prince of Wales but it has since been granted royal warrants by the Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales and the Queen.

Cadbury received its first royal warrant in 1854 from Queen Victoria and continues to hold a royal warrant, which was granted in 1969 by the Queen.

Britvic was granted a warrant for soft drinks in 1955 by the Queen.

Premier Foods was granted a warrant for cakes and culinary products in 2008 by the Queen.

Other food and beverage royal warrant holders include Andrew Wilson & Sons, Angostura bitters, Baxters, Bendicks, Berry Bros & Rudd, Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery, Cobb of Knightsbridge, Coca-Cola, Coopers of Oxford, Corney & Barrow, Fairfax Meadow Farm, Howgate Dairy Foods, HP sauce, Inverawe Smokehouses, Malvern Water, McVities, Pinneys of Scotland, Premier Foods, Prestat, Shepherd Neame, Strongbow, Tate & Lyle.

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