You may find influencers shilling their Tummy Tea and yoga pants all over Instagram these days, but they are not the first to use their prestige to sway the masses towards their preferred product. Oh no, indeed. Throughout history, one could argue that the British monarchy – all the way back to the 1400s – used their own status and know-how to put a stamp, literally, of approval onto the products they loved.
We are talking about Royal Warrants.
Through my own experience with royalty – which is limited, but nonetheless I consider myself an expert at dinner parties – they are a loyal group. Not monogamous, per se, but loyal nonetheless. When they like a product, they usually stick to a few shops and bollocks to the rest. Over time, this has resulted in relationships being formed with makers, producers, artisans and the like. Relationships form, quality is produced, and a bit of commercial magic happens. At the end, a craftsman can only hope to retain a warrant from the Royal household.
The process of Warrants of this type were formalized in the 15th century but the tradition of the monarchy recognizing skilled tradesmen can be traced to centuries earlier. There’s something about being royal, I guess, where you don’t have time to shop around like the rest of us do. Under Charles II (not to be confused with the jug-eared Charles III), the process was formalized and it’s still emblazoned across companies ranging from Ettinger’s leather goods to Tricker’s brogues and everything in between (you’d be surprised, as I was, to learn that there are Royal Warrants for horse feed, escalator repairs, and even one for the sticky and mysterious HP Sauce. Who knew?
To attain a Royal Warrant isn’t easy. But neither was, I’m sure, seeing those infamous photos of Sarah Ferguson in France but, hey ho, everyone managed. First, not just anyone can apply. One has to have supplied a member of the Household (here, either the King or the Prince of Wales, since Elizabeth II’s passing) with a non-professional product or service for at least five of the most recent seven year. So, Elizabeth may have had a favorite moving service to use (Abels, in fact) and they could apply for a Warrant; her chiropractor, let’s say, could not. Once that first criterion is met, the business can then apply.
As of today, there are over 800 warrant grantees. Many of these come from the late Queen, with which the business can display the appropriate marking of their stature for two years. The same goes for Prince Phillip before her. While King Charles III has already granted his royal warrant onto various businesses throughout the years, we are sure to pay more attention to the monarch’s favored tradesman. In fact, his dedication to sustainable practices can already be seen in the additional steps needed by grantees to show that their companies align with the monarch’s own values.