9 Suffolk products approved by the Royals
- Credit: Trevor Jones/Gibson Saddlers
Chances are, before you buy a new product or invest in a service, you’re pretty likely to read reviews, or even get recommendations from your friends. But what if you could have the Queen herself recommend her favourite goods and services? That’s where the Royal Warrant comes in.
Royal Warrants are essentially an official seal of approval, currently given from one of the three grantors from the royal family – either the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales.
They’ve been around since medieval times, when tradespeople would compete for royal favour as the monarch designated what they deemed to be the best of the best.
Royal Warrants as we know them today though can be traced back to the 15th century, when the Lord Chamberlain appointed a Royal Warrant of Approval.
Nine Suffolk businesses are lucky enough to have been awarded such recognition.
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Ever wonder who makes the Royal family’s vibrant racing colours used during equestrian events? Well, they come from none other than Gibson Saddlers, a Newmarket-based manufacturer, in business since the early 1900s.
Founded by Colonel F.E Gibson, his vision was to create stylish yet durable and high-quality saddlery and horse clothing that stood the test of time. The company has since gone on to be synonymous with high-quality equine clothing and equipment.
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“We started supplying the racing colours to King George V in 1932, and we have held our Royal Warrant continuously since,” explains general manager Russell Leaman.
Also renowned for its leather saddles, the team at Gibson Saddlers handmakes all of its attire and equipment in West Suffolk, using only the best English leather and flocking.
“The Royal Warrant is something we’re very proud to hold, and it’s a great tradition. We like to think it gives us a little bit of prestige within the equestrian world.”
Gainsborough Silk Weaving Co has been in business for over a century, and is the embodiment of British craftsmanship. Its team of skilled crafters work tirelessly from its Sudbury-based site, and cover all aspects of the intricate fabric making process – from designing and hand-dyeing yarns, to weaving the finished product.
After completing its first Royal Commission in 1912, the company received a Royal Warrant some 70 years later after it supplied the fabric that was used to upholster the wedding carriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.
“The Warrant is reviewed every five years, so it is very pleasing once it is updated,” explains director Neil Thomas, who is the current grantee of Gainsborough’s warrant.
Simply flick though the weaver's portfolio of work on its Instagram page, and it’s not hard to see why the company continually receives the Royal seal of approval time after time.
Its fabrics can be seen in a number of exciting and high-profiles places - whether that’s onscreen as costume and upholstery fabric in the likes of Downtown Abbey and Pirates of the Caribbean, or adorning the walls of some of the most decadent buildings around the world, including The Goring hotel in London, and the National Gallery.
“The Royal Warrant seems to serve us well in overseas markets as well, where it is looked upon as a mark of quality and prestige,” he adds.
Over in Ashbocking, near Ipswich, is James White Drinks. A purveyor of premium-quality, non-alcoholic drinks and juices, it has been supplying the Royal family with its Big Tom drink since 1996, and received its Royal Warrant in 2002.
“As soon as we were able to, we applied,” says managing director Lawrence Mallinson. “Royal Warrants are granted at the discretion of the royal family, and not all those who apply are successful - but we got lucky. It is always great to receive recognition for doing something well, and it is doubly so when received from the Queen.
“The fact that we have continuously supplied the Royal family with Big Tom now for 25 years shows it stands the test of time. Bloody Marys are a complex drink to make well – but with Big Tom, you just have to add the vodka. It's quick, simple and reliably successful – fit for a king, no less!”
With around 800 Royal Warrant holders across the UK – how do you know if your business is eligible for one, and how do you apply?
Firstly, it doesn’t matter whether your company is large or small, independent or public. Businesses can apply for a Royal Warrant after they have been supplying their 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. Once awarded, they are granted for up to five years. They are reviewed after four years, where a decision is made on whether it should be renewed or not.
Certain goods and services however are excluded. These include but are not limited to banks, solicitors, newspapers, magazines, journals and similar publications.
If your company successfully falls under the criteria, it can then file an application that is scrutinised by the Royal Household Warrants Committee. Applications open at the beginning of May and close at the end of June.
If successful, the holder is then entitled to display the relevant royal arms in connection with the business.
While around 20 to 40 Royal Warrants are cancelled annually, a similar number of new ones are granted. Could your business be next?
Suffolk Royal Warrant holders
Abels Moving Service T/A Abels, Brandon
BBA Shipping & Transport Ltd, Newmarket
Command Pest Control Ltd, Sudbury
ForFarmers UK Limited, Bury St Edmunds
Gibson Saddlers Ltd, Newmarket
Horse Requisites Newmarket Ltd, Newmarket
James White Drinks Ltd, Ipswich
Musk's Limited, Newmarket
The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Co Ltd, Sudbury