Unwarranted criticism or have royal warrants had their day?

Unwarranted criticism or have royal warrants had their day?

Posted 01 June, 2021 at 11:30

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of (ISW) Independent Shop Watch


The e-commerce expert ParcelHero questions whether royal warrants are still relevant today, with the royal shopping list including eight champagne companies and a caviar specialist. It says most retailers holding Prince Philip’s warrant haven’t even updated their websites following his death.

‘By Appointment’ signs feature on many of the 800-plus company websites that hold royal warrants. It’s traditionally regarded as a selling point, so why have so few of the 38 firms who held the Duke of Edinburgh’s warrant updated their sites since his death in April?

The e-commerce delivery specialist ParcelHero believes this shows royal warrants may have less relevance in the era of internet shopping. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Royal warrants have been a hallmark of quality since the 1400s but in the era of fast-moving e-commerce they probably have less importance.

‘Companies ranging from car maker Aston Martin to luxury designers Zone Creations hold warrants, which are widely regarded as a badge of quality. Almost two months on from Prince Philip’s death, however, hardly any companies that feature his arms have updated their pages. This begs the question: how relevant are royal warrants today?

‘Nearly 40 companies’ websites feature warrants specifically granted by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, including clothing manufacturer Lyle & Scott, office equipment manufacturers Autoscan and photographers Anthony Buckley & Constantine. The Duke’s coat of arms can also still be seen alongside the Queen’s on many other webstores, including country clothing specialists Barber and fashion company Daks.

‘It’s not illegal for them to remain on display, since companies have two years to remove all mentions following the death of a Royal, but in the era of instant internet updates, this extended period does look a little old-fashioned.

‘There are other reasons why royal warrants may have had their day. They are only granted to companies that provide goods to the Royal Household. Today, the UK economy is based less around manufacturing than it was and more around services.  Professional service providers to the Royal Household, such as bankers, brokers, agents, solicitors, employment agencies, training providers and veterinary services are not eligible for warrants, which makes the system less relevant.

‘Not every company that holds a royal warrant even shows the arms and ‘By Appointment’ wording on their site anymore. Boots and Jaguar Land Rover, for example, no longer feature their warrants prominently on their websites. Does that signify a change in public opinion about their relevance?

‘It’s also less a mark of quality and longevity than it once was. Holding a warrant didn’t guarantee the future of companies such as fashion store chain Austin Reed, car manufacturer Daimler or opticians Dollond & Aitchison.

‘Some other companies that do still exist have also lost their warrants, for various reasons. One of the more spectacular examples involved former Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died alongside Princess Diana. He subsequently removed the royal warrant signs from his store in 2000 and publicly burned them in 2009. In 2018, lingerie suppliers Rigby & Peller lost their charter after former owner June Kenton, who fitted bras for the Queen, released the book Storm in a D-Cup, which included details of her Royal visits.

‘Of course, there is a certain cache that comes from owning products from companies that supply the Royal Family, and it’s not an honour granted lightly. Companies must have supplied the Royal Household for five years before they are even eligible for a warrant.

‘However, today’s consumers may be less influenced by a Royal shopping list that includes at least eight champagne companies and a caviar specialist – even though the likes of Cadbury, Heinz and Kellogg’s also make the cut.

‘To learn more about how modern retail is moving away from traditional practices and adopting a combined web and High Street omnichannel approach, see ParcelHero’s new study on the High Street of the future at: https://www.parcelhero.com/research/shop-of-the-future

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