From earliest times, the monarch and court, like any other household, needed goods and services, from making robes to repairing roofs.
Competition for royal favour was intense. Therefore, the monarch had the pick of the country’s most skilled and talented tradespeople. The first rewards for this loyal service were Royal Charters granted to the trade guilds, later known as livery companies. The earliest recorded Royal Charter was granted by Henry II to the Weavers’ Company in 1155.
In 1394 Dick Whittington helped to obtain a Royal Charter for his own company, the Mercers, who traded in luxury fabrics. By the 15th century, royal tradesmen were recognised with a Royal Warrant of Appointment. An early recipient was William Caxton, England’s first printer, who was appointed King’s Printer in 1476.
Over the centuries, royal life and tastes changed. Henry VIII appointed Thomas Hewytt to ‘Serve the Court with Swannes and Cranes’ and ‘all kinds of Wildfoule’. The Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 was largely put together by royal tradesmen.
Charles II’s 1684 list of royal tradesmen included a Sword Cutter, an Operator for the Teeth, and a Golf-club Maker. Among the tradesmen supplying the Royal Household in 1789 were a pin maker, a mole taker, a card maker and a rat catcher.
In the late 18th century, royal tradesmen began displaying the Royal Arms on their premises and stationery. But it was Queen Victoria who ensured Royal Warrants gained the prestige they enjoy today. During her 64-year reign, the Queen and her family granted more than 2000 Royal Warrants, eight times as many as the Queen’s uncle, George IV. They included companies such as Fortnum & Mason, Schweppes, and Twinings, which still hold Warrants today. Women who were granted Warrants included a Modeller of Wax Flowers, a Chronometer Maker and a Silversmith.
Royal Warrants continue to be a prestigious mark of recognition to those who are regular suppliers of goods and services to certain members of the Royal Family. In the United Kingdom, grants are currently made by three members of the British Royal Family to companies or tradespeople who supply goods and services to individuals in the Family.
The warrant enables the supplier to advertise the fact that they supply to the Royal Family, so lending prestige to the supplier. Warrants are currently granted for the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Several other royal families allow tradespeople to advertise royal patronage, including the ruling dynasties of the Netherlands, Denmark, Thailand, and Sweden. To qualify for a Royal Warrant, tradesmen must supply and charge the member of the Royal Family concerned, or their Household, with products or services in significant quantity over a period of at least five years.
The Royal Warrant of Appointment has always been a symbol of excellence and quality much treasured by those to whom it is granted.
Launer has been supplying the Royal Household since 1968 and was then granted a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen.