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Issue 12 - By Royal Appointment

Whisky Magazine Issue 12
November 2000

 

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By Royal Appointment

The award of a Royal warrant is a hugely prestigious achievement. Elizabeth Walton explains the significance.

Any right thinking person with a preference for Laphroaig's distinctive, rich flavour finds themself in the very best company. His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, granted Laphroaig his Royal Warrant in 1994 and D. Johnston & Co. famously became the only single malt whisky distillery allowed to use the legend ‘By Appointment'.

The warrants may only be granted by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen Mother and Prince Charles. Within strict guidelines set down by the Lord Chamberlain, who is head of the Royal Household, the holders may adorn their products with the appropriate Royal Coats of Arms. Under no circumstances, and possibly on pain of prolonged incarceration in the Tower, may a warrant holder fly a Royal Standard. It all sounds quaint and arcane but around 925 companies currently hold one or more warrants - prized as the ultimate accolade and much sought after.

Britain is defined by tradition and the Royal Warrants of Appointment date from the middle ages when the City of London was the size of a postage stamp. Commerce was controlled by the powerful trade and craft guilds, and in 1155 Henry II marked his patronage of the Weavers' Company with a Royal Charter. Thus he had inaugurated a tradition that was destined to run for centuries.

During the reign of Henry VIII, Thomas Hewytt was appointed to “Serve the Court with Swannes and Cranes and all kinds of Wildfoule.” In 1684 goods and services to King Charles II's Household included a Watchmaker in R...

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