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Should Royal Warrant holders be required to manufacture their goods in Britain?

Coronation Festival’s ‘Best of British’ reveals that not all Royal Warrant holders make their products in the UK


The Royal Warrant Holders Association represents individuals and companies holding Royal Warrants of Appointment.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be able to attend the Coronation Festival – an event held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace to celebrate 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Held over 4 days and hosted by the Royal Warrant Holders Assosciation, the event brought together over 200 companies who are entitled to display the Royal Arms on their products and packaging because they supply goods or services to the Royal Household.  The show featured a diverse range of businesses, from British car makers Bentley, cloth weavers Hainsworth and handbag brand Launer to pharmacists to the Queen, John Bell & Croyden and Rokill, who provide pest control services to the Palace.

The bestowing of a Royal Warrant dates back to 1155 when Royal Charters were granted to the trade guilds, later known as Livery Companies. The earliest recorded Royal Charter was granted by Henry II to the Weavers’ Company and in 1394 Dick Whittington helped to obtain a Royal Charter for his own company, the Mercers, who traded in luxury fabrics. By the 15th Century it had become known as a Royal Warrant of Appointment and one of the first recipients of this was William Caxton, England’s first printer, who was appointed King’s printer in 1476.


Dege & Skinner hold 3 Royal Warrants

During her current reign Queen Elizabeth and her family have granted more than 1,000 Royal Warrants, and currently around 800 companies are by appointment to her Majesty, with over 200 of these taking part in this weekend’s Coronation Festival celebrations.

Over the years the marque of the Royal Warrant has become known to represent British craftsmanship at its best and this was certainly in evidence in the quality of goods displayed by the Royal Warrant holders at this one-off event. However, whilst the vast majority of products on display were crafted in the British Isles, there were still a few who were displaying goods which I know to be made in the Far East. Even the catwalk show which took place at the event under the title Best of British featured products that were not manufactured here.

So is this a problem? Should Royal Warrant holders have been allowed to bring foreign-made goods to an event that is supposed to be presenting the Best of British? “It’s not right”, said Cass Stainton, an employee of Dege & Skinner, whose bespoke suits are all hand-crafted on Saville Row. “We’ve been invited here at Her Majesty’s pleasure and should be presenting products that are made in Britain”.

Swaine Adeney Brigg

Swaine Adeney Brigg first won Royal patronage in 1798 when it was appointed whip-maker to His Majesty George III

Roger Gawn, chairman of Swaine Adeney Brigg, who makes all of his products in the UK, was equally unimpressed. “It’s wrong that they should be allowed to do this…I think that a British brand should mean that it is made in Britain, and I don’t think it’s right that some here are not”.

Other exhibitors that I spoke to were more philosophical about the fact that some Royal Warrant holders do not manufacture their goods in Britain anymore. Lisa Wood, MD of Corgi, who hand make all of the socks that they sell to Prince Charles at their factory in Wales, had this to say about the importers, “some goods just aren’t made here anymore because of changes in fashion or whatever, so what can they do?”.

Corgi Hosiery sell their socks to the Royal Family

Corgi Hosiery sell their socks to the Royal Family

What do you think? Should a Royal Warrant only be bestowed on companies that manufacture their products in the UK? What about those that already hold a Royal Warrant but move the production of their goods offshore whilst in possession of the honour? Should the Warrant then be taken away? These are certainly the views of Ian Buckley, who commented on this blog a few months ago: “Seems to me the Royal Warrant is applied regardless of where products are made. They even give it to British companies who move production overseas and put people out of work, (e.g.. Cadbury).”

There are already strict rules in place to ensure that businesses are entitled to keep their Royal Warrant – each holder must re-apply every 4 years and is required to demonstrate, among other things, that they have a sustainable environmental policy and action plan in place. If their goods or services are no longer deemed up to the required standard then their Royal warrant is taken away. Should this re-application also ask them to provide evidence that wherever possible they are continuing to support British industry by manufacturing their goods in the UK?

What do you think?




  1. Edward Henson on July 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Im shocked that this is not already the case. How can we expect British consumers to support British manufacturing if it is not supported at the very top of British society.

    I mean, its not as if money is a barrier for the Royal household is it?

  2. GP on July 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I’ve always seen the Royal Warrant as merely marking a business as favoured be a particular royal. For instance virtually no products at Harrods are British and Jaguar Land Rover is Indian owned and soon to build cars in China. Manufacturers now have no obligation to maintain a local source but are indeed allowed to claim British identity merely by having a head office here. Jack Wills claims to be ‘classic British tayloring’ but their clothes are made by children in China. Until this fakery is legislated against it will only proliferate.

    • CB on July 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

      You are confusing ownership with location. JLR is a British company owned by Indians. Therefore its cars are British products. It has expanded into China to take advantage of the huge market there. My understanding is that this will be ADDITIONAL capacity and it does not mean JLR’s UK factories will close. Pretty well all major car makers manufacture in China or South East Asia and that doesn’t make Mercedes any less German or Peugeot any less French in my eyes. Triumph has a factory in Thailand and that hasn’t made their bikes any less British has it?

  3. Joe on July 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Ok the question “Should Royal Warrant holders be required to manufacture their goods in Britain?” is slightly silly. One of the biggest examples would be Samsung. They hold a royal warrant but there would be no benefit making TV’s in the UK. It would be nice if they did but the majority of parts would be imported because we don’t make the major components in the UK and the government loves to TAX everything, so UK made TV’s would cost a fortune!

    The Warrant isn’t given for British craftsmanship, its given for anything the royal household deems to be worthy of it. e.g. they want good quality TV’s so they call Samsung

    I’m a big supporter of British made products but sadly the UK doesn’t make the best of everything.

  4. Commonwealth manufacturing would make sense, surely?

    Agree GP’s point that the common law of passing-off needs something added to it; “British tayloring” could surely mean “tayloring favoured by British customers”, but the fact that it’s written as a sales point implies British tayloring employment to me. I can’t be the only one who thinks this is passing-off!

    I take Joe’s point about relatively few components being made in the UK, but that’s no reason why some stages of manufacturing shouldn’t be done here! Sony have a TV assembly factory in Wales once I think.

    As for tax, some proportion of it is for things we more-or-less vaguely agree are good, like schools and hospitals and pensions. To me, that’s a reason to like taylored-in-Britain clothing rather than “British Tayloring” clothing!

  5. William Hall on July 19, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I find the view taken by Lisa Wood of Corgi socks as being negative,many products could be manufacture in Britain it there was a willingness on the part of British companies to actuallly invest in modern production equipment, for far too long this country has suffered from a severe lack of investiment both in modern plant and equipment,but more importantly its failed to invest in its workforce.IE: The right qualifications and skills needed to produce everyday goods we all need to buy.No Royal Warrant should be granted to companies not making their products in Britain,whilst in some ares of electronic goods certain components are not produced here now,should not become an excuse for not producing such finished goods here.

    • Simone Harris on July 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

      I totally agree, William. The other side, though, rests with the end consumer, many of whom are not prepared to pay the price for well made merchandise. Perhaps, on the whole, we have all become just a little too greedy. As Harold Wilson once said, “One man’s pay rise is another man’s price rise.” The goal-post of expectancy has moved considerably since his day. Looking at the cost of so many products, from food to clothing to electronic equipment, it seems to me that the largest percentage is the cost of haulage. This makes a mockery of value for money.

  6. BG on July 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    If a product says by Royal Apointment it should be something made in Britain employing British workers, it is obviously a huge boost to a companies advertising to posses a Royal Warrrent, so it should be made in Britain.
    We allow things to slip without complaint in Britain far to easily, so yes make it a rule and stick to it.
    Our manufacturers could lower their prices as they don’t have to pay shipping costs.

  7. Richard Middleton on July 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    The question isn’t important. Traditionally, royal or imperial warrants in most countries had nothing to do with the origin of the goods.

    However, consumers should have a right to know where the goods they buy were made AND (especially in the case of food) where the raw materials were extracted or grown.

    It is for that right that we should campaign. At the moment, it is practically impossible to “buy British”, without spending two or three hours on the Internet, before each purchase. For this problem, we can largely blame the European Commission. It all but outlawed proper labelling.

    Even some of the companies which are listed on “makeitbritish.co.uk” mislead their customers. For instance, there are firms which produce 95% of the their shoes in India (or wherever) but which claim, on the basis of the 5% of high-end shoes they still make in the UK, that they are “British shoe manufacturers”.

    To me, that seems worse than moving production overseas and being completely honest about it.

  8. BG on July 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Definately not. Royal Warrants should only be given to those companies who maunfacture in Britain.
    This country has become too slack in allowing companies to display this prestige warrant who are not based in Britain, they should have the warrant taken away until they return their business to this country.

  9. […] commemorate the birth of the third in line to the throne, will actually be made in the UK. If the Coronation Festival was anything to go by, and the Queen buys her new grandson a present from one of her Royal Warrant holders, not even that […]

  10. R. Hewitt on October 31, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    The Warrants are not synonymous with qua;ity. Yardley of London has some Warrants and yet their products no longer use premium ingredients as they once did.

  11. Fred Sticks on September 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    As a nation, we’re far too relaxed about production being moved abroad. Amongst some, it’s regarded as prejudice that you should care whether something was made here or not. The effect on employment, balance of trade and ultimately prosperity has been miserable.

    It’s the royal family’s prerogative who they bestow their warrant on, but I can’t say I’m impressed, and frankly it tarnishes the whole reputation of Royal Warrants.

  12. Michael Rogerson on May 1, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    I wonder royal warrant are allowed at British Overseas Territories? I knew Made in Britain is important but what about British Overseas Territories?

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