With Royal Ascot having just been, and with Royalty on the brain, it seems like a fitting time to talk about something else Royal—the Royal Warrant. While, of course, a Royal Warrant demands absolute discretion from its holder, we tend to let people in on our secret every now and then. If you hadn’t heard, since 1979 we have officially supplied our lovely gloves to Her Majesty the Queen… and we’re pretty chuffed about it.
What occurred to us recently, however, is that many of you out there might have no idea what that little royal crest actually means. What exactly is a Royal Warrant? Who else holds the secrets to the Kingdom? When did this Royal Warrant business start? Well, without transporting you back to your year 9 History classrooms, we’d like to teach you a little more about that tiny gold crest of which we are so very proud…
The idea of the Royal Warrant is as old as the Monarchy itself. While it may mean something different today, the King and his court have always had to be provided for and, when we say ‘provided for’, we mean by the best in the land. Whether that meant the best whisky, or the best lace gloves, the King and his court required the best of the best. We like to think that some things never change. The Royal Warrant has come to be seen as a mark of excellence and a welcome badge of honour, recognised the world over.
The history of the Royal Warrant is vast and detailed but, in the event that you like your history short and sweet, we have compiled a list of our favourite facts about our favourite crest…
Facts About the Royal Warrant…
Royal Warrants can be granted by HM the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.
- You need to have been supplying one of these three Royals for at least 5 years in order to be granted a Royal Warrant.
- In the 18th century there was a ‘Royal Bug-Taker’ who was responsible for ridding the upper echelons of the kingdom of bed bugs. His name was Andrew Cooke and we felt he deserved a special mention. Cooke claimed to have cured a total of 16,000 beds and apparently became very irritated to hear of a rival Bug-Taker in the Kingdom.
- In the reign of William IV a brewery at Brentford received a perpetual grant to use the Royal arms. This perpetual grant is one of only 3 in the world and the Brighton Dome (where Abba won Eurovision) holds another.
- One Royal Warrant pioneer is someone you may have heard of—Mr Richard Twining, whose Royal Warrant dates back to 2 September 1837. Their Royal crest sits just above the Twinings name. So, next time you sit down for a spot of Twinings mid-afternoon tea, know this… the Queen approves.
- Each year the Royal Warrant Holders Association hosts a large banquet. It is held every autumn in the ballroom of The Grosvenor House in Park Lane and up to 1,500 holders attend.
- There are no solicitors, no surgeons and no stockbrokers with a Royal Warrant. Only ‘tradesmen’ not ‘businessmen’ are allowed to possess one.
- Today, Armitage pet care, Bacardi martini, Weetabix, Heinz and Elizabeth Arden are among the members of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.
- Royal Warrants granted by the late Queen Mother ran out 5 years after her death but many companies still continue to display her crest in her memory.
- Chocolatier Prestat was the last warrant holder to be appointed by the Queen Mother- she apparently loved their chocolate mint fondants and violet crèmes. A lady after our own hearts.
Recent Royal Warrants are moving in a more eco-friendly direction, which many will be glad to know. Green Fuels, who make biodiesel out of waste cooking oil, have recently been granted a Royal Warrant.
Naturally, many of the original Warrants granted are no longer necessary– we can just about imagine Kate and Wills calling upon their Royal Mole-Taker but much has changed since the days of King Edward IV. That being said, some things are timeless and a beautiful pair of gloves is just one of those things.
Cornelia James has been the proud holder of a Royal Warrant for 37 years now. After being profiled throughout England as the ‘Queen of Colour’, Cornelia James was asked by Norman Hartnell to make the ‘going away gloves’ for the then Princess Elizabeth after her marriage to Prince Philip. This was the start of a long and happy association, formalised in 1979.
Since then, Cornelia’s gloves have graced Her Majesty’s hands on countless occasions and we are proud to have a little to do with that iconic Royal wave.