The Royal Warrant Holders Association was formed in 1840.
Its main objective is to ensure the continued existence of the Royal Warrant as a treasured and respected institution. It helps to administer applications for new Royal Warrants and changes to existing ones.
The Association is not part of the Royal Household, but belongs to its members. It advises members on everything to do with their Royal Warrants and assists with the correct interpretation and implementation of The Lord Chamberlain's Rules, which govern the Royal Warrant.
The Association also helps its members to communicate and network with each other through a programme of social, business and networking events.
To find out more about Royal Warrants, our local associations, our charities and the Plowden Medal, click on the boxes below.
What is a Royal Warrant?
A Royal Warrant of Appointment is a mark of recognition of those who have supplied goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales for at least five years, and who have an ongoing trading arrangement.
The Monarch decides who may grant Royal Warrants. These are known as the Grantors: HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales.
The Royal Warrant is the document that appoints the company in its trading capacity, and is granted to a named individual, known as the Grantee. The Warrant gives the Grantee permission, and responsibility, for the display of the relevant Royal Arms in connection with the business.
Today there are around 800 Royal Warrant holders representing a huge cross-section of trade and industry, from individual craftspeople to global multi-nationals. They are united by a commitment to the highest standards of service, quality and excellence. Almost all Warrant holders are members of the Association.
Many Royal Warrant holders are within reach of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House in London. There are also concentrations of Royal Warrant holders around other Royal Residences – Windsor Castle, Balmoral, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Sandringham and Highgrove House – and the local associations have developed around these.
The local associations play a vital role in providing a wide range of social, business and networking events for local members, which complement the work of the national Association in bringing together the community of Royal Warrant holders. Each local association has its own history and character, and operates on a largely voluntary basis.
Click below to find out more.
The Windsor, Eton & District Association is the oldest of the local associations. Its origins can be traced to 1810, when the tradesmen serving Windsor Castle first formally dined together. It joined the national Association in 1987.
Following Queen Victoria's first visit to Deeside in 1848, a number of Aberdeenshire tradespeople found custom with the Balmoral Estate, the Monarch's private home in Scotland. In 1871, the Aberdeen Association was formally constituted, and it joined the national Association in 1931.
Founded in 1894 as the Edinburgh Association of Royal Tradesmen, this association changed its name to The Edinburgh Royal Warrant Holders Association in 1994, having joined the national Association in 1932. The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is HM The Queen's official Scottish residence.
The Sandringham Association was established in 1979 as a branch of the national Association. Most members of this Association are from the east of England or supply the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, HM The Queen's Norfolk retreat.
The newest of the local Associations, the Highgrove Association was formed in 2010. It is named after Highgrove House, the private family home of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, in Gloucestershire.
In addition to its principal charitable arm, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the Royal Warrant Holders Association also operates a Charity Fund – the Members’ Charity - established in 1902 and rejuvenated in 2013. This exists to support the charitable endeavours of employees of Royal Warrant-holding companies.
The Charity Fund makes grants, in the range of £500 to £2,000, to local charities with which employees of Royal Warrant holding companies are personally involved, and where the amounts given will make a real difference.
Twice a year, Royal Warrant holders who have given time to charitable work in their communities can apply for small donations to assist their chosen cause. All applications must be endorsed by a Grantee, but could support the charitable work of any employee at a Royal Warrant-holding company.
Charity Fund award recipients have included local sports clubs Smarden Sports Association and Norwich Lads Club; St Jude’s Laundry, part of the Forth Sector employment charity; Glencraft, a social enterprise that manufactures mattresses; and Banchory & District Talking Newspapers, an Aberdeenshire charity which produces audio recordings for residents who have difficulty reading a newspaper.
Awards have recently been granted to Peter Le Marchant Trust for two defibrillators for disability-equipped canal boats; Swaffham and Litcham Hospice for litecar wheelchairs; and to The Hamlet, in Norfolk, for specially adapted ipads for young adults with special needs.
Annually, the Fund also awards an Aldeburgh Bursary to young professional musicians, and makes a contribution to the retiring national President’s nominated charity.
The closing dates for Charity Fund applications are 1 February and 1 July each year. To find out more, please email:
Plowden Medal Conservation Award
The Association awards the Plowden Medal annually to recognise the man or woman who has made the most significant recent contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession.
Inaugurated in 1999, the award commemorates the Hon. Anna Plowden CBE, a leading conservator and Grantee of Plowden & Smith, who was President-elect of the Association at the time of her death in 1997.
Presented at the Association's Annual Luncheon, the Plowden Medal covers all aspects of conservation, be they practical, theoretical or managerial, and is open to both those working in private practice and those employed by institutions.
Click below to download more information about the Plowden Medal.
How to apply
Companies can apply for a Royal Warrant after they have supplied the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales with goods or services for at least five years out of seven (to include during the 12 months before applying).
Royal Warrants are not granted for professional services – e.g. bankers, brokers or agents, solicitors, employment agencies, training providers, veterinary services, government agencies – or to newspapers, magazines, journals, periodicals or similar publications.
Royal Warrants are granted for up to five years and only to companies that provide goods or services to the Royal Household. Goods purchased for re-sale by souvenir shops run by Royal Collection Enterprises and the Private Estates, and goods or services provided to the Crown Estate, Historic Royal Palaces, the Duchies of Cornwall or Lancaster and Royal Parks do not qualify.
Applications open at the beginning of May and close at the end of June. Application forms and instructions are available from the Association upon request during this period only. Each application is scrutinised by the Royal Household Warrants Committee, which makes its recommendation to the Grantor.
To find out more, read our Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Royal Warrant Holders Association on:
020 7828 2268
You can search the Royal Warrant Holders Association directory by company name or keyword, by Grantor, by trade category, or by region. Click on the link below to browse all Royal Warrant holders who are members of the Association, and to start your search.Start a search
Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, QEST, was formed in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal Warrant Holders Association and the 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who graciously consented for her name to be used for the new charity.
QEST exists to help people of all ages and backgrounds at a critical stage in their craft career pathway. It funds the education of talented craftspeople through traditional college courses, apprenticeships and one-on-one training with master artisans. Since its inception, the charity has awarded over £3.5m to over 400 gifted individuals, of whom over 90% are still practising their craft professionally.
In 2014, QEST introduced an Apprenticeship Scheme, recently adding the QEST Craft Apprenticeship Hub, to help young people begin careers in craft as a viable alternative to a college/university education.
QEST continues to reflect the excellence of British craftsmanship as symbolised by the Royal Warrant of Appointment. The vision of the founding Trustees and Royal Warrant holders has enabled QEST to continue to encourage and develop outstanding individuals who demonstrate extraordinary talent in British and contemporary crafts; to excel in their chosen trades and make a vital contribution to the British craft industry.
The Association’s charitable arm, QEST, launches its Apprenticeship Hub to help young people begin careers in craft as a viable alternative to a college/university education.
HM The Queen becomes Patron of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) for her 90th birthday year. Portrait below by QEST Scholar, Alastair Barford. Limited edition prints available from recordreign.com
The Association celebrates its 175th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST).
The Association hosts the Coronation Festival in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. Attended by 60,000 visitors over four days, it is the biggest event in the modern history of the Royal Warrant.
The Association's Royal Charter is renewed, as well as its aims, governance and remit. Almost all Royal Warrant holders are members.
The Association and its charitable arm the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) establish offices at 1 Buckingham Place and the Association assists with more of the increasing administrative work connected with Royal Warrants.
The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) is established by the Association to mark its 150th anniversary and the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
The Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II takes place. Many Royal Warrant holders are commissioned to assist, including couturier Sir Norman Hartnell, who created The Queen’s Coronation dress and robe.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the accession of King George V, the Association builds The King’s House, showcasing the trades, products and skills of Warrant holders. The House is exhibited at the Ideal Home Exhibition before being rebuilt in Surrey and presented to Edward VIII.
Membership of the Association increases to include more than half of all Warrant holders, and cases of improper use of the Royal Arms are reduced.
The Association's aims, governance and remit are established by Royal Charter of Incorporation and it is renamed the Royal Warrant Holders Association.
1870s & 1880s
Rules governing the use of Royal Warrants are tightened so that bankrupts lose their Warrants; Warrants cannot be automatically transferred between companies upon merger or acquisition; and the false display of Royal Arms is outlawed by Parliament. The Association is incorporated to become the official body protecting the rights of Royal Warrant holders.
The Royal Tradesmen's Association is formed, with 25 members, and begins to challenge the increasing cases of improper use of Royal Arms.
In 1837 Queen Victoria ascends the throne. Over 1,000 Royal Warrants are granted during the reign of Queen Victoria and Royal tradespeople begin to gather socially to celebrate the birthday of the monarch.
Royal tradespeople begin to display the Royal Arms on their premises.
The granting of Royal Warrants is re-established by Charles II, following its abolition under Oliver Cromwell.
In 1520 Royal tradespeople create the 'Field of the Cloth of Gold' for Henry VIII near Guînes, the magnificent site for his diplomatic meeting with Francois I of France.
Royal tradespeople are recognised with a Royal Warrant of Appointment. These include William Caxton, England's first printer, who is appointed as King's Printer in 1476.
As different trades seek to organise themselves more effectively and maintain standards, trading associations known as livery companies develop. These include the Drapers' Company, granted a Royal Charter by Edward III in 1364, and the Mercers' Company (headed by the famous Dick Whittington), granted a Royal Charter by Richard II in 1394.
The department known as 'The Great Wardrobe' organises the Royal Household's accounts and administration. It holds the earliest records of transactions between Royal Households and the kind of craftspeople and traders who still form the bulk of Royal Warrant holders today.
In 1155 Henry II grants the Weavers' Company a Royal Charter – the earliest known example of a formal document between Royalty and tradespeople.