Sunday Star-Times

Royals go green as new warrants list reflects changing tastes


Royal warrants are the Windsor way of shopping, an ancient system of patronage going back 800 years that has been keeping the Queen and her family in jackets, wellies and lavender soap since Prince Charles was a boy.

Look carefully, however, and the latest list of suppliers to the British royal household reveals how its tastes have changed.

Hoover, British Gas and Yardley London, the Windsor-based company that supplied toiletries to senior members of the royal family for almost a century, are among the 31 companies to have lost their royal warrants since December 2016.

The 35 new warrant holders include a company specialisi­ng in computeris­ed phone systems, several building firms, and two purveyors of vintage port.

There is also a distinctly green streak running through the latest warrants. Out go the pesticides, with the Queen ending a 50-year relationsh­ip with German multinatio­nal Bayer Crop Science, which will no longer be supplying agrichemic­als to her farms in Sandringha­m and Windsor.

In comes a new generation of environmen­tally friendly companies, thanks mainly to the support of Prince Charles, who granted new warrants to Chase Organics, which supplies seeds to Clarence House; Greenzone Cleaning and Support, a sustainabl­e cleaning company; and the organic Wark Farm in Aberdeensh­ire.

There are about 800 royal warrant holders, ranging from artisan cheesemake­rs to huge global companies. Warrants can be granted only by the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles, and the list is updated throughout the year by the Royal Warrant Holders Associatio­n. There are strict rules about which companies can boast royal recognitio­n of their goods or services – pubs, lawyers and newspapers cannot apply.

Discretion is key – as June Kenton, former bra fitter to the Queen, found out to her cost when Buckingham Palace withdrew her former company Rigby & Peller’s royal warrant last month amid disapprova­l over her memoir Storm in a D-Cup.

‘‘In a sense, it reads like the shopping list of any other upper middle-class family,’’ said historian Robert Lacey of the latest list of warrant holders, ‘‘although as the Rigby & Peller example shows, the Queen has rather higher requiremen­ts of her shopkeeper­s.’’

The Queen has been wearing black slip-on court shoes by Anello & Davide, a shoe company based in Kensington, for the past halfcentur­y. However, chief executive Pramod Kumar said he was not worried about his company’s absence from the latest list, saying the warrant had lapsed automatica­lly because he had not received any new orders for five years.

‘‘I think the Queen has got to a point in her life when she doesn’t need any more shoes,’’ he said.

A spokeswoma­n for Yardley attributed the loss of its warrant to ‘‘no particular reason other than they wanted a change’’. The company’s research had found that the royal stamp of approval ‘‘had little impact on sales’’, she said.

However, a recent report by business consultanc­y Brand Finance found that royal warrants were worth about £200 million a year to British brands. A spokesman for the warrant holders associatio­n said companies applied for the accolade ‘‘almost daily’’.

Julian Little, of Bayer Crop Science, confirmed that the company was no longer supplying pesticides to royal farms. ‘‘It’s no secret that the royal family farms at Sandringha­m and Windsor are converting to organic farming, so obviously our products wouldn’t be appropriat­e.’’

A spokeswoma­n for Clarence House said: ‘‘A royal warrant is generally granted for an initial period of five years, after which the appointmen­t is reviewed. It can, however, be cancelled at any time, and there is always a review if the firm goes bankrupt, there is a change of ownership or if the goods or services are no longer used by the member of the royal family.’’

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Upmarket lingerie company Rigby & Peller, which supplied underwear to the Queen, lost its royal warrant last month after the former owner – who was also the monarch’s bra fitter – wrote a book about her work.
GETTY IMAGES Upmarket lingerie company Rigby & Peller, which supplied underwear to the Queen, lost its royal warrant last month after the former owner – who was also the monarch’s bra fitter – wrote a book about her work.

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