It became common in the Middle Ages to recognize those who traded with royalty. In the UK, the first known recognition was given in 1155 by Henry ll. This was awarded to a weaver's company and was called a Royal Charter. In the 15th Century a Royal Warrant was created by Lord Chamberlain and the rules around these still stand. A royal warrant given out in the 15th Century was in 1476 to William Caxton for his printing services to the King.
These royal warrants bring attention to products or companies that the Royal Family use and find satisfactory. The monarch can issue royal warrants and can appoint other members of the family who are able to do this as well. King Charles lll, when he was Prince of Wales, could issue warrants when Queen Elizabeth ll was on the throne as did her husband Prince Philip. It is assumed that the present Prince of Wales (Prince William) will be granted this privilege as well.
Companies that aren't granted royal warrants are media, government departments, employment agencies, party planners or pubs or theatres. Typically, those granted Royal Warrants are tradesmen such as engravers, clothiers, food and drink companies, tailors, upholsterers, jewellers, or those providing luxury goods. Some of the interesting Royal Warrants today are ones that make broomsticks, cleaning products, homeopathic medicines, copying and printing services, garden design, horse feed and animal welfare and drainage.
A person or company granted a Royal Warrant is called the 'Grantee.' When they are given this privilege, they can use the Royal Coat of Arms in connection with their business. They receive a paper that says 'By appointment to ' the title and name of the royal member granting the royal warrant and the name of the goods provided. As you can see above, some businesses display the Royal Warrant on the outside of their businesses or anywhere else they choose such as on their delivery vehicles, websites or letterhead. A Royal Warrant is a symbol of prestige and quality. It is understood that a company issued a Royal Warrant will never discuss their business dealings in regards to the Royal family.
The Royal Warrant is good for 5 years and is normally reviewed within a year of its expiry. However, it can be cancelled anytime as when HRH Prince Philip cancelled the Royal Warrant to Harrods after the owner Mohamed Al Fayed made inflammatory comments about the Royal Family. Others are also reviewed if a business goes bankrupt, is sold or the owner dies. Still others are cancelled because of changing times and attitudes. This applies to a cigarette company that lost its royal warrant. The Royal Family usually adds or cancels royal warrants each year.
When an issuer of Royal Warrants dies, the Grantees can continue to display the Royal Warrant for 2 years after which they can decide to forgo using it or to reapply. Prince Philip had 38 Royal Warrants when he died in April 2021 so it has been more than 2 years since his death. Queen Elizabeth ll had 686 Royal Warrants upon her death. King Charles lll as the Prince of Wales had 138. He will decide whether to make any changes.
Most of the companies are UK based but there are some non UK companies. There was once a scotch from Canada (Heinemann Walker) that had a Royal Warrant from the Queen but it was cancelled. This may have been because it amalgamated with another company and became Johnny Walker. A famous non UK company with a Royal Warrant is Cartiers (from France) for its diamonds.
With the death of Queen Elizabeth ll, it is an uncertain time for all of the Royal Warrant grantees. They will all be waiting to see what the decision is in regards to their future. It is thought that there will be an increased emphasis on companies offering environmentally friendly products and services.