By Appointment Only
The Royal Warrant: A testament to the extravagant and the oddball
As old as the Monarchy itself, Royal Warrants of Appointment are a mark of recognition granted, on rare occasion, by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales to those who supply goods or services to the Royal Household. As is to be expected, the list is a real who’s who of sartorial excellences: Savile Row’s Gieves and Hawkes rub perfectly-cut shoulders with 5th-generation shoemakers, Crockett and Jones who – in turn – doth their cap to old-school hatters, Lock & Co to name a few.
But the Royal Warrant is more than just a long, long list of regal extravagances: It’s a celebration of craftsmanship and a testament to the value of heritage and loyal, dedicated trading. And if we’re totally honest, it’s also a pretty compelling – almost caricaturesque – insight into the life and times of the Royal Family.
For example, there’s something endearingly cartoonish about the idea that, alongside the Royal Warrants issued to Laurent-Perrier, Bollinger and 6 other purveyors of fine champagne, you can also find Royal Warrants for Heinz baked beans, HP sauce, and Cadbury’s chocolate. That’s not to suggest that a balanced Royal breakfast consists of a glass of fizz, a full English and a Dairy Milk, but it doesn’t exactly rule it out as a possibility either.
By the same token, there’s a certain slapstick charm to the fact that The Prince of Wales’ once crashed a four-engine BAe 146 airliner on the Isle of Islay before nonchalantly hopping off the plane unscathed and embarking on a tour of the Laphroaig whisky distillery, a grantee of his own Royal Warrant since 1994.
Of course there’s more to Charles than a penchant for peaty whisky and a flair for dramatic entrances. His granting of a second Royal Warrant to Fortnum & Mason as his official tea merchant and grocer betrays a far less rock n’ roll and far more, well, really bloody British side to the Prince of Wales. Legend has it that Fortnum & Mason are also responsible for introducing the British to Heinz Baked Beans and the creation of the scotch egg. Bizarrely, neither of these claims are cited as reasons for their holding of two Royal Appointments.
Stalwarts of tradition and bastions of sovereignty that they are, there’s very little that could help paint a down-to-earth image of Her Royal Highness and the House of Windsor. But somehow – just somehow – knowing that Buckingham Palace has a BT broadband connection (having been awarded a Royal Warrant in 2007) does the job. Because there’s nothing more endearingly everyman than the thought of Her Royal Highness on her smartphone quietly giggling to herself while she scrolls frantically, joyously, gleefully through an endless feed of memes, fail compilations and The Crown spoilers.
And just like that, the long list of Royal Warrants becomes an archive of odd little factoids that remind us that, for all their regal ancestry, collectively stiff upper lips and near ludicrous dedication to received pronunciation, the Royal Family aren’t that unlike the rest of us. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves: we’re not alike in any way that actually matters, but who doesn’t love a cup of tea and a scotch egg? EJ
Words by Will Halbert