Holland & Holland first used the Royal name as a trademark in 1885 and the gun is first illustrated in The Field of that year. Frederick Beesley had stunned the gun trade with his self-opening sidelock design in 1880. It was licensed
to, then bought by Purdey. Holland & Holland wanted something as good. It took a decade to perfect. Early Royals have dipped edge locks rather than the streamlined shape we see now (clearly inspired by the Beesley design). In the early 1890s the gun took on its modern form. It was not radical in actual design,
rather an amalgam of all things good and combined with excellent, simple and reliable Southgate ejector work. That’s why it has become so much copied. Gunsmiths will tell you it is an easier gun
to regulate than the Beesley-purdey. ‘Self-opening’ (by means of a coil spring
and plunger under the barrels) was added to the specification in 1922. The main mechanical difference, apart from that, is that the Holland cocks on opening
and the Purdey on closing.