Royal Warrant of Appointment (United Kingdom)
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Royal warrants of appointment have been issued for centuries to those who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. The warrant enables the supplier to advertise the fact that they supply to the royal family, so lending prestige to the supplier. In the United Kingdom, grants are currently made by the three most senior members of the British Royal Family to companies or tradesmen who supply goods and services to individuals in the family.
Suppliers continue to charge for their goods and services – a warrant does not imply that they provide goods and services free of charge. The warrant is typically advertised on company hoardings, letter-heads and products by displaying the coat of arms or the heraldic badge of the royal personage as appropriate. Underneath the coat of arms will usually appear the phrase "By Appointment to..." followed by the title and name of the royal customer, and then what goods are provided. No other details of what is supplied may be given.
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The earliest recorded British royal charter was granted to the Weavers’ Company in 1155 by Henry II of England.  Food and drinks suppliers have always been some of the most important warrant holders to the palace. One of the first monarchs to grant a warrant was King George IV, who turned Buckingham Palace into his residence.
Royal Warrants are only awarded to tradesmen, such as carpenters, engravers, cabinet makers, dry-cleaners, even chimney sweeps. Some are well-known companies; many are not. The professions, employment agencies, party planners, the media, government departments, and "places of refreshment or entertainment" (such as pubs and theatres) do not qualify.
Some 850 individuals and companies, including a few non-UK companies, hold more than 1,100 warrants to the British Royal Family.
The Royal Warrant signifies there is a satisfactory trade relation in place between the grantor (The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales) and the company. Within the company, there is a nominated person called the grantee. That person is in all respects responsible for all aspects of the Royal Warrant.
It takes at least five years of supplying goods or services to the member of the Royal Family before a company is eligible to have its application considered for recommendation. That application is then presented to the Royal Household and goes to the buyer who makes its recommendation for inclusion. It then goes in front of the Royal Household Warrants Committee, which is chaired by the Lord Chamberlain, which decides whether to accept the recommendation. It then goes to the grantor, who personally signs it. The grantor is empowered to reverse the Committee's decision, and therefore the final decision to accept or withhold a grant is a very personal one.
Some Royal Warrants have been held for more than a hundred years. Goods need not be for the use of the grantor. For example, cigarettes were only bought for the use of guests of the Royal Family, but these Warrants were cancelled in 1999 as a matter of public policy.
For business, the granting of a Royal Warrant is a huge boost, because royal approval may be displayed in public with the coat of royal arms of the grantor, indicating that their services or products are of high quality.
Most Warrant holders are members of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, which liaises closely with the palace. Its secretary, Richard Peck, is a former submarine commander.
- By Appointment: 150 Years of the Royal Warrant and Its Holders, Tim Heald, Queen Anne Publisher (2 November 1989), ISBN 0-356-17099-3