Friday, January 29, 2010

The Queen Shops Here

After a celebrity appearance on television today, the station’s phone lines are often by people wanting to know where their favorite celeb got her lipstick, sweater, earrings, or shoes. A famous sports star endorses an energy drink and it instantly sells a million cans. But in the nineteenth century, young shoppers had another way to know what goods were endorsed, but no less than royalty: Royal Warrants.

A Royal Warrant recognized individuals or businesses who had been selected to provide goods or services to the royal family. The implication was that if the royals shopped here, the goods had to be of exceptional quality. A business that had earned a Royal Warrant proudly displayed the royal coat of arms on their shop fronts, stationery, advertisements, and delivery coaches and wagons.
But it wasn’t just shops that received the royal thumbs up. Such interesting servants as sword cutters, mole takers, and rat catchers also received Royal Warrants. How’d you like to brag, “My daddy is rat catcher to the Queen”?

The Prince Regent issued around 250 warrants in the early nineteenth century, including to Rundle and Bridges, his favorite jeweler. But Marissa’s beloved Queen Victoria far surpassed him. She and her family issued more than 2,000 warrants during her reign. Businesses that are still in business today that first received their warrants from her include Fortnum & Mason, Schweppes, and Twinings Tea.

Today there are around 850 Royal Warrant Holders to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

But I bet not one of them is a rat catcher.


Joanna said...

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Queen Victoria's family had a Royal Warrant for Twining's Tea as Twining's is the only tea that Jane Austen would drink and its sooo good. It has a smoother taste or something than Lipton does.

That's really cool though that both of my favorite historical figures drank the same tea I do. :)

ChaChaneen said...

I would lurve to visit Fortnum & Mason! Sigh.... Swoon....

Gillian Layne said...

Oh, this is so cool. I had absolutely no idea. I love learning new tidbits! :)

Michaela MacColl said...

I suppose it would be hard to do a product placement with a rat.... Bruce Alexanders terrific series about Sir John Fielding the blind beak of Bow Street, has a wonderful rat catching scene in Jack Knave and Fool. Wonderfully icky! But the rat catcher there would never have made it to royal favor. Its from the 1770's but I doubt the trade evolved much.

Nice post.