From sausages to silk flowers, you too can shop like the Queen
Have you ever dreamed of living like a queen? The life of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II may be more accessible than you think. You can buy gloves like those that grace the Royal wave, dine on sausages that she particularly favors or dream of being a monarch as you sleep in luxury bed linen, just like hers.
The British monarch's favored goods and services are recognized with a Royal Warrant, the ultimate mark of quality. Hundreds of companies and individuals are today entitled to display the coveted crest of working "by appointment to HM The Queen." Most are listed by The Royal Warrant Association, gatekeepers to the Royal Household, and each one gives an insight into life behind palace walls.
From pest control to sausages
Not all of those goods and services are glamorous, it has to be said. There are rat-catchers, among several pest-control contractors, and a company that disposes of "liquid sludge." It seems even Royal residences have such problems. But they all require the highest standards in serving the monarch and upholding the luxury befitting a royal household.
There are conservators, restorers and stonemasons to preserve treasures painted, sculpted and carved in centuries past. There are also jewelers, goldsmiths and silversmiths.
Every conceivable trade is among the Royal Warrant holders. You can brave the elements in Burberry's iconic waterproof trench-coat, the company is on the list as The Queen's "Weatherproofers." You can hang your clothes with luxury padded and velvet hangers made by H&L Russel, housewares specialists, listed as "Manufacturers of Garment Hangers."
When it comes to food, a monarch does not necessarily dine only on truffles and caviar. While the Queen's favored sausages include those made by Musk's, some of her eggs come from Noble Foods, leading suppliers to major retailers. She enjoys coffee from H R Higgins -- a third-generation family business with a shop in Mayfair.
Grantees range from individual artisans to multinational companies. Many of them, such as John Lewis (Suppliers of Haberdashery and Household Goods) or Jeyes (Manufacturers of Hygiene Products), are also favorites with the British public. Most companies are local, but there are some are overseas brands, including Elizabeth Arden, the American cosmetics firm.
One of the last remaining powers
The history of the Royal Warrant dates back to medieval times. Documents record King Henry II granting one to the Weavers' Company in 1155. Today, a committee of the Royal Household makes recommendations, but all final decisions are signed off by the grantor -- whether the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales.
As a personal decision made by them rather than Parliament, it is one of the last remaining powers of the monarchy.
The warrants are awarded primarily to tradespeople. Professional services -- lawyers, accountants and doctors, for example -- do not qualify.
Such is the honor of a Royal Warrant that the Association receives daily inquiries from hopeful companies. But there has to be an established trading relationship -- five years' worth of trade within the past seven, an acknowledgment that some things may not be required every year.
The warrant is only granted initially for up to five years, reviewed in the year before it is due to expire. It can then be re-granted. The Royal Warrants relate to everything that a home, a country estate, a restaurant, a hotel and an office would need, apart from the ceremonial side.
Chimney-sweeps are among the valued tradesmen. Milborrow, a family business in Sussex, services Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, among other Royal residences.
Ben Giddings of Milborrow says that a Royal Warrant, as a mark of trust, makes a big difference to their business in reaching other clients: "There's no higher accreditation or accolade that a company could be awarded than to have the seal of approval from the Royal Family."