Eat like a queen: who are Buckingham Palace’s official suppliers?

Published on September 16, 2022 at 6:00 p.m.

Queen Elizabeth II toasting at a banquet – © Tim Graham/Contributor/Getty Images

Have you ever noticed the British crown coat of arms on everyday products? Boxes of tea, chocolates, cereals or alcohol, as with everything related to royalty, the list of official suppliers to the palace is certainly not left to chance, and could even change following the recent death of the queen.

What is the Royal Warrant?

Royal Warrants, or Royal Warrants, are granted to companies or traders who provide goods and services on a regular basis to the Palace. They have been awarded each year since 1840, through the Royal Warrant Holders Association, or the Association of Royal Warrant Holders. The Royal Warrant is granted in document form, as a kind of distinction or prestige, and grants the holder the right to display the Royal Arms on the goods or services they procure, for a maximum period of five years. Once this period has passed, the mandate is renewable for new periods of five years, provided that the file is evaluated and validated the year preceding the expiry.

Each year, between 20 and 40 warrants are cancelled, while roughly the same number are issued. To be considered, potential candidates must have been consumed by royalty for a minimum of five years, within the last seven years. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have an appropriate corporate environmental and sustainability policy and action plan.

Who can issue a Royal Warrant?

If there is one thing to remember, it is that the royal patent cannot be bought. It is granted by the reigning monarch and the grantors (“The Grantors”), themselves appointed by Her Majesty. This is usually his spouse and the heir to the throne. Thus, until their deaths, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip were responsible for granting or not granting the royal distinction. And since 1989, Charles III, was like his father, one of the grantors of royal patents. On the mandated products and documents, we can then see several types of coat of arms, depending on the person who granted it (Her Majesty, or one of the licensors). Following the death of Elizabeth II, the former mention, “Assigned by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales”, will have to be replaced by “Assigned by His Majesty the King”.

The accession to the throne of Charles III does not in any way cancel the 182 titles he granted as prince. However, this is not the case for all “Royal Warrants”. According to the website of the Association of Royal Warrant Holders, the award remains valid for a period of two years from the date of the grantor’s death. In other words, no less than 620 companies which have received their mandate from Queen Elizabeth II, will see themselves or not, withdraw this label. It is up to King Charles, and the grantors he will appoint, to decide whether or not to extend the mandate. Provided, of course, that the companies concerned meet the various admission conditions.

Who are Buckingham’s official suppliers?

To date, there are more than 800 holders of royal principals, spread over a varied cross-section of industry and commerce. Luxury cars, individual craftsmen, fishmongers or computer software: all sectors are concerned and nothing obliges the companies in question to be of British origin, or even to be based in the United Kingdom. On the kitchen side, there are around 118 Royal Warrant holders, officially supplying the palace and the royal family with food and drink. Of course, goods and services are not provided free of charge, and transactions are conducted on a strictly commercial basis. Many of the brands on the list are also known globally, and these products are surely in your cupboards right now.

Unsurprisingly, we find the British institution Fortnum and Mason, notably at the origin of Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee cake. Under mandate for 150 years, the company was the official supplier of Her Majesty for groceries, but also of Prince Charles, in terms of tea. Still in the confectionery section, it is impossible to miss the famous Walker’s Shortbread biscuits, recognizable by their iconic rectangular boxes with a red and black tartan pattern. Added to this is the legendary chocolate brand with the purple logo, Cadburry, which received its very first mandate in 1854, granted by Queen Victoria. Not to mention the English tea brand, Twinings, whose boxes also feature the two coats of arms, attributed by the Queen and Charles III. But that’s not all, the cupboards and fridges of Buckingham also stock many products from the American giant Heinz, the Nestlé brand, or even Kellogg’s, the originator of the Queen’s favorite cereal, Special K. Finally, in When it comes to alcohol, the British crown does not do things by halves, and Laurent-Perrier, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Gordon’s bottles all have the royal coat of arms mandated by Her Majesty. If it’s the queen who says it, titled look further, it’s bound to be good for your kitchen!

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