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.