Colour Services

Sep 22nd, 2010 | | Colour Services | 2 Comments

The Royal Warrant

A Royal Warrant is a mark of recognition to people or companies who have supplied goods or services to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

Today there are around 850 Royal Warrant Holders representing a huge cross section of trade and industry from traditional craftspeople to global and multinational firms operating at the cutting edge of technology. They range from chimney sweeps to computer suppliers, butchers to boiler manufacturers. The one thing that they have in common is their commitment to the highest standards of quality and service.

Henry II

From the earliest times the King and the Court required goods and services. Whether it was making robes or repairing roofs, competition for Royal favour was intense and the Monarch had the pick of the most proficient tradespeople. The earliest surviving record of this Royal approval dates from 1155 when King Henry II granted the Weavers’ Company of London a Royal Charter.

By the 15th century the Lord Chamberlain formally appointed Royal tradesmen with a Royal Warrant and the practice continues to this day. An early notable was William Caxton, the father of British printing, who was the printer to King Henry VII. It appears that by the 18th century Royal tradesmen began to display the Royal Arms on their stationery – Johnson and Justerini, the forerunners of today’s Justerini & Brooks – displayed the Prince of Wales’s feathers on their letterhead with the boast that they were his ‘Foreign Cordial Merchants’.

Caxton Showing the First Specimen

Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV at the Almonry, Westminster: With Edward are his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, and their children, Elizabeth, Edward, and Richard.
Daniel Maclise. 1851

During the 64 year reign of Queen Victoria more than 2000 Warrants were granted. These included a number of companies who still hold Warrants today, including a well-known chocolate maker; a locksmith; a hairbrush manufacturer and a tea merchant.

In 1840 an annual dinner was held by Royal tradesmen to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. At that dinner it was decided to form ‘The Royal Tradesmen’s Association’, which became ‘The Royal Warrant Holders’ Association’ on receipt of its first Royal Charter in 1907.

Today the Association advises members on everything to do with the Warrant. It also provides a link with the Royal Household and ensures that Warrants are displayed by bona fide Warrant Holders alone. There are branches in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Sandringham and Windsor and membership is open only to Warrant Holders.

It was therefore with great excitement when we, at Papers and Paints, first realised that our paints were being used by the Royal Household. Surely it wouldn’t be too long before we would also be allowed to display the Royal Arms on our letterhead and shop premises?

However, the years passed and more paint and lots of advice was provided, yet there was no sign of the postman with the long-awaited stiff white envelope. It was only a chance conversation with a colleague who runs one of the most talented firms of specialist decorators that the penny dropped – nothing would happen unless we applied.

By that stage it was difficult to remember what we had done and when. However, with a bit of digging around in filing cabinets we were able to gather together sufficient information to demonstrate that we had been supplying goods and services for the requisite five years even though the actual period was nearer twice that.

The relevant forms filled, checks made and we were delighted to be told on 1st January 2007 that we had become a Royal Warrantholder By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen as architectural paint suppliers.

Further Reading
Tim Heald. A Peerage for Trade. A History of the Royal Warrant. 1988.
RWHA. The Royal Warrant.

Those of you of ‘a certain age’ will remember this opening sequence from a 1960s television series called The Prisoner:

Patrick McGoohan’s house is now the offices of ‘The Royal Warrant Holders’ Association’.

Papers and Paints can be found here:

View Larger Map


Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Comments (2)

KATE MAYFIELD » 22. Sep, 2010

What a wonderful tale with a very happy ending!

funcolors » 22. Sep, 2010

Congratulations on being a Royal Warrantholder By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen as architectural paint suppliers! What a charming story, Patrick, and I'm sure the status is well-deserved.