A Royal Warrant is worth its weight in gold for companies, as is the call to serve a Royal wedding
One of the quintessential ingredients of an English breakfast is a bottle of HP Sauce which has, at its top, the seal of a Royal Warrant of Appointment. Since the Middle Ages, formal recognition has been paid to tradespeople who provide either goods or services to the royal household. It all began with a Royal Charter granted by Henry II to the Weavers’ Company in 1155, and companies have been seeking royal favor ever since. Today, there are around 800 Royal Warrant holders, many of which are already familiar to an international audience, such as luxury powerhouse Burberry and upmarket Piccadilly grocers Fortnum & Mason. The range of businesses to make the list is more extensive than you might expect, however, with members ranging from chimney sweeps to barbers, all of which need a track record of at least five years’ service before they can then display their wares with the Royal Coat of Arms. Royal Warrants have always been regarded as hallmarks of quality, service and excellence, but holders are also required to exercise discretion.
“With this award comes responsibility,” says Will Cavert, director of Windsor & Eton Brewery, which was granted a Royal Warrant in April this year. While some companies have a record of Royal Warrants that date back more than 200 years, proudly displaying the insignia is the one and only detail of their exclusive trading relationship that can be shared.
Tradition may count for much with the current batch of Royal Warrant holders, but when it comes to royal weddings, there is a feeling that for the royal family to stay relevant, it has to change with the times. Refreshingly, there’s no such thing as constancy or consistency when it comes to awarding commissions to respective providers, and speculation is therefore rife in the months leading up to royal occasions. The bride’s dress, in particular, has always been the most closely guarded of secrets. Certainly, the capacity for total discretion—a rare commodity today—along with an impeccable trading record, are key to being in the frame for consideration. For the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it was important that the choice of providers not only gave a nod to modernity, but also reflected their own personalities and tastes. It was very much the couple themselves who were involved in the selection. So there was no beauty parade as such. Companies had to await the call. But what a call. What better offer of enhancement can there be for a brand than to be associated with a royal wedding? There’s the endorsement from royalty and the joyful event for the brand to bask in. Then there’s the involvement of the youthful couple to provide both an invigorating element and a sense of the steady passage of time that all brands cherish as they promote their place in our futures.
Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director at French fashion house Givenchy, was chosen to design the dress because of her timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring and relaxed demeanor. Markle also wanted to highlight the success of a leading British talent who has now served as the creative head of three globally influential fashion houses, having led Chloé and Royal Warrant holder Pringle of Scotland previously.
To promote the transatlantic nature of the occasion, the couple enlisted Californian pastry chef Claire Ptak, owner of Violet Bakery in east London, to bake the cake. Markle first met Ptak when she interviewed her for her lifestyle blog. “Knowing that they really share the same values as I do about food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and most importantly, flavor, makes this the most exciting event to be a part of,” said Ptak of her very special commission. It is thanks to Royal Warrants that the Royals’ tastes and shopping habits are a matter of public record, and you couldn’t be better placed to discover their favorite institutions than in London, home to 212 Royal Warrant holders. Here, you can pop into the Queen’s stationers (Smythson) and Prince William’s wedding tailor (Gieves & Hawkes). As for wine, Berry Bros. & Rudd, which has a new shop located opposite St James’s Palace, holds two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.
The city is so positively brimming with suppliers who have earned the royal seal of approval that it would take weeks to visit them all. But whether it’s a wine merchant, tailor, jeweller, or designer bearing the coat of arms on the storefront, customers are guaranteed only the highest level of quality, excellence, and service, fit for a queen.