What is a Royal Warrant and what is the future of this Royal accolade?

What is the future of Royal Warrants and how does this prestigious accolade benefit a company’s marketing efforts?

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Following the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, around 600 companies will be waiting to hear whether the new monarch, King Charles III, will extend their Royal Warrant.

Companies are granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment by supplying products or services on a regular and ongoing basis to the royal households for not less than five years out of the past seven. The tradition is centuries old, where tradespeople competed to supply the royal household and thus were considered the finest suppliers of that particular item.

The holders are not allowed to disclose specific details of the goods or services they provide except as described in the wording or legend beneath the Royal Arms, e.g. ‘By Appointment to… Suppliers of Stationery…’. So sadly, we’ll never know whether Her Majesty was more of a Rice Crispies, Coco Pops, or Crunchy Nut kinda gal despite Kellogg’s being a holder.

All the products are provided on a commercial basis and allow the provider the right to display the appropriate Royal Arms on their product, packaging, stationery, advertising, premises and vehicles.

Although holders of the accolade report that the association with royalty is good for business and particularly for exports, companies also value the pride, honour and increased responsibility that it gives their staff.

Losing a Royal Warrant

It’s not unusual for a company to lose its Royal Warrant. A Royal Warrant is usually granted for up to five years and reviewed in the year before it is due to expire. For a variety of reasons, around 20-40 brands have their Warrants revoked per annum and a similar number of new ones are granted.

Usually, holders are granted 12 months grace to remove the Royal Arms from their signage, marketing and packaging but in the case of the death of the Grantor, in this case, the Queen, the companies may continue to use the Royal Arms in connection with their business for up to two years.

There are over 800 Royal Warrants in place but as Charles issued around 180 as Prince of Wales, these will remain as they are associated with the household and not the title.

Applying for a Royal Warrant

With such a small number of holders of this prestigious ‘by Royal appointment’ status, this is truly an elite club of companies who boast a superior product or service backed up with the finest of reputations and exceptional customer service.

Continuity and consistency seem to be the buzzwords associated with many of the existing suppliers. A company is unlikely to be granted a warrant overnight – they will need to have supplied one of the Royal households over a significant period of time which tends to rule out brands that are very trends based or where products are only available for a limited amount of time.

Unless you’re very lucky, this accolade is not likely to be secured without some considerable effort so a good place to start may be to contact the royal households to see if they have any requirements for your product or service. Although a very small community, you’re unlikely to be selected if you offer products or services that compete with an existing holder. Have a look at the existing holders list and see if you can offer anything new or complementary. 

The word on the street is that King Charles III will be looking to appoint more companies that have a proven track record in environmental issues and sustainability, and perhaps remove the accolade from companies whom he believes are not addressing climate change.

It remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to make such decisions, when as monarch he may need to remain more neutral on these sorts of issues.  

Under Queen Elizabeth, applications for Royal Warrants tended to start at the end of April and close in June but this timetable may also shift under King Charles. Given the timescales involved, this is not a knee-jerk exercise for applicants anyway. However with King Charles likely to allow the new Prince of Wales the ability to grant his own warrants, now might be the time for patient marketers to play the long game, and determine whether the royal seal of approval is something worth chasing.

With #queueforthequeen trending, and the current national outpouring of tributes to Queen Elizabeth, it’s true to say that the royal family continues to cast its spell over many people and the companies that are selected to share in that, are likely to benefit significantly.

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