Royal warrants equal jackpot for British businesses

 04 Jun 2016 - 13:26

Royal warrants equal jackpot for British businesses
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) meets guests during a visit to the Honourable Artillery Company in London on June 1, 2016. The engagement marks the Queen becoming the longest serving Captain-General of the Company. AFP / POOL / Chris Jackson


London: From a butcher in northern Scotland to a tailor in central London, becoming an official supplier to Britain's royal family is a mark of quality as well as a commercial jackpot, particularly for exports.

The seal opens doors, according to Robert McFarlane, sales director of Donald Russell, the butcher near Aberdeen whose meats have graced Queen Elizabeth II's table for 30 years.

"It's an endorsement of our business," he said.

Gaining the right to display a royal coat of arms from the queen, her husband Prince Philip or heir to the throne Prince Charles on a product or premises is not easy.

The business must have supplied them with goods or services on a regular basis for five years.

It must symbolise British excellence, be seen as responsible, particularly from an environmental perspective, and should also treat its staff well.

The "by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen" seal of approval -- or to "HRH The Duke of Edinburgh" or "HRH The Prince of Wales" in the cases of Philip and Charles -- can also be withdrawn at any time.

"It's a gift from them to you, not a guarantee, so there is always a nervousness that it's going to be OK," McFarlane told AFP.

Mark of Britishness

The anxiety pays off, however, both in Britain -- where the monarch remains popular and respected in the year of her 90th birthday -- and abroad in markets like Asia.

"It's a huge honour to have a royal warrant," said Edward Bodenham of perfumers Floris, established in 1730 in the central London district of St James's.

Floris has a presence in 26 countries, notably Japan, where shoppers are particularly keen on products associated with the royal family, said exports director Sylvie Imbert.

"It's a guarantee of quality and also proof that the products are English," Imbert added.

Only around 800 companies have the right to use royal coats of arms on their products and business cards.

These include Fulton, the queen's favourite umbrella maker, leather goods maker Ettinger and tailor Henry Poole.

"We are one of the last bastions of pure bespoke," said Anthony Rowland, sales manager of Henry Poole, referring to the practice of measuring men for suits tailored to fit their body shapes perfectly.

The tradition of royal warrants dates back to the Middle Ages but gained particular significance during the 19th-century reign of queen Victoria, the current queen's great-great grandmother.

"The number of royal warrants increased dramatically under queen Victoria, encouraged by her husband, prince Albert, who recognised the importance of royal endorsement to help to promote trade," said Russell Tanguay of the Royal Warrant Holders' Association.

Venerable department store Fortnum and Mason -- a must-visit for the tea and biscuit-loving London tourist -- is among those to make the most of their royal connections in recent years.

The shop on Piccadilly has offered a string of different tea blends for royal weddings, birthdays and jubilees over the years.

However, it keeps a dignified silence when it comes to the recipes for the queen's favourite treats.

One thing we do know, though, is that Prince Philip has a guilty pleasure -- ginger cream chocolates.