An appointment with excellence

From much-loved traditional brands of food and cosmetics to software designers and window cleaners, the royal warrant is a proudly worn badge of distinction for companies of all kinds

As self-appointed wardrobe mistress to my grandmother I relished wintry Sunday afternoons organising her possessions. There was such pleasure to be had in lining up her perfectly proportioned court shoes and smart, boxy handbags. Silk head scarves had to be smoothed and folded, and bottles of English scent, which seemed quietly glamorous to a seven-year old, were replaced in their quaint boxes.

Reading through the list of royal warrant holders to the Queen brought those childhood memories flooding back. Well-loved names such as Bronnley, Yardley London and Morny catch the eye, along with pantry favourites from Lea & Perrins and Walkers Shortbread.

But the list of those holding warrants is about more than pleasant incidentals. More than 800 companies hold this badge of distinction, which is also granted by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, and the list reflects the needs and interests of their many households. So horse food manufacturers and dry cleaners sit alongside suppliers of computer software and window cleaners. Saddlers and coach makers keep company with major names in motor manufacture. All have the right to display the legend “By Appointment” on their products, premises and advertising.

The noun “warrant” is a medieval corruption of “guarantee”. Having the right to display the grantor’s coat of arms for five years signifies that the royal family prefers to deal with that company because they have confidence in what the company offers. And they are confident not just about the product but about the environmental and corporate social responsibility commitments behind it.

Whatever the size of the company, the warrant goes to an individual – an owner or managing director – who has personal responsibility to ensure best quality service.

Buying a slice of the royal lifestyle is occasionally within our reach and many are tempted, as our fashion feature shows.

The list of royal warrant holders is usually taken as an indication of the “family firm’s” shopping preferences. Her Majesty seems to have fairly simple tastes, as former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond discusses when she reveals what happened the time she took tea with the.

No doubt some royal warrant holders will be called upon to prepare for the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in June 2012. The Royal Warrant Holders Association will be marking the occasion with an endowment scheme to double the number of craftspeople supported by its charitable arm, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. We look at its impact on our heritage.

A sense of tradition can be reassuring at a time of upheaval and hardship, and as our insight into the festive celebrations of the royals reveals, we are increasingly mirroring them by turning to the tried and trusted this season. Just as we can all shop with the royals’ preferred suppliers, we can basically enjoy the same sort of Christmas.

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