For many of us, the changes will be limited to new coins, banknotes and stamps entering circulation featuring the King, and the King's new cypher (which was recently revealed) appearing on government buildings, state documents and some new post boxes.
However, for some of the nation's most established and popular brands and many other goods and service providers, the passing of the late Queen could result in a much more substantial change.
Around 800 companies and individuals are proud Royal Warrant holders ("Warrant Holders"), who have the privilege of displaying Royal Arms on their product packaging, stationery, premises, vehicles and advertising. However, following the passing of both the late Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, and the accession to the throne of the King, the majority of these Royal Warrants will become automatically void and the process of granting Royal Warrants will undergo substantial changes.
Royal Warrants are a form of official endorsement from the Royal Household, i.e. recognition that such goods and/or services are of sufficient quality to regularly supply the Royal Household.
In order to be eligible to receive a Royal Warrant, a business must supply their products and/or services to the Royal Household on a regular and on-going basis for not less than five of the previous seven years. Businesses must also demonstrate that they have an appropriate environmental and sustainability policy in place.
Royal Warrants are granted by specific grantors, each of whom have their own set of Royal Arms and it is the reigning monarch who decides who has the power to grant Royal Warrants (the "Grantors"). During her reign, the late Queen appointed the late Duke of Edinburgh and the then Prince of Wales as additional Grantors. It is possible to hold and display more than one Royal Warrant where multiple Grantors grant their Royal Warrants to the same product/service.
Royal Warrants are granted for a term of up to five years and any renewals are subject to the goods and services maintaining their quality standards.
Whilst the presence of the Royal Arms on a product is not intended to provide any guarantee of quality, it is undeniable that recognition from the Royal Household elevates the reputation of a brand.
Warrant Holders are given the right to display the Royal Arms of the Grantor accompanied by the words "By appointment to…" in connection with their business, subject to certain requirements and restrictions. Warrant Holders often choose to display the Royal Arms on stationery and product packaging, one such example being Heinz, which has proudly adorned the packaging of their products with the Royal Arms of the late Queen since 1951. As mentioned above, they also have the right to display the Royal Arms and an associated legend on their premises, vehicles and in their marketing communications. All such uses must comply with the Lord Chamberlain's rules (i.e. rules relating to the use of Royal Arms by Warrant Holders) and advertising laws in the UK. For example, any reference to the Royal Arms or Emblems without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain's office (i.e. without a Royal Warrant), will be deemed to be misleading advertising. Furthermore, marketing communications cannot show or mention members of the Royal Family without their prior permission.
Royal Warrants are always granted to a specific named individual (the "Grantee"). Therefore, even if a company is granted a Royal Warrant, it is granted to a named person within that organisation who is responsible for ensuring correct use of the Royal Arms and compliance with both the Lord Chamberlain's Rules and relevant advertising laws.
ACCESSION OF A NEW MONARCH
On the death of a Grantor, all Royal Warrants issued by that Grantor become automatically void. Additionally, on the death of the monarch, the Royal Household conducts a review of the Royal Warrants that have been granted and are existing as at that date. Therefore, Warrant Holders should note the following in relation to the Royal Warrants that they hold:
- they may continue to display the Royal Arms for up to two years, provided that there is no significant change within the company concerned;
- at this stage, it is not clear whether the affected Warrant Holders will need to re-apply for a new warrant from King Charles III or if the Royal Household will make a decision based on its review. We suspect that the review will be similar to the reviews that take place prior to renewal i.e. to ensure that:
- the quality of the goods and services have been maintained;
- the appropriate environmental and sustainability policy continues to be in place; and
- the new monarch and his household use such goods and services;
- applications will not open until the Royal Household has completed its review;
- at this stage, it is also unclear whether holders of Royal Warrants from the then Prince of Wales: (a) can continue to use their existing Royal Warrants for their full term; (b) will automatically be granted a Royal Warrant from the King following the Royal Household review; and/or (c) will need to reapply for a new Royal Warrant;
- the King has the power to appoint new Grantors. The King is the only surviving Grantor at present and the Royal Warrants that he now grants will be in the name of the King. Therefore, it is likely that he will appoint new Grantors, who will most likely be his wife, the Queen Consort and his heir and eldest son, the new Prince of Wales; and
- the Lord Chamberlain's rules will need to be revised to reflect the new Grantors and Royal Warrants.
Anyone wishing to make a new application (including any existing holders who wish to obtain a Royal Warrant from one of the new Grantors) will need to wait for the application process to re-open.
We await further announcements from the Royal Household as to what happens next.
WHAT DO BRANDS NEED TO CONSIDER?
In light of the changes that are due to take place, it is a good time for Warrant Holders to take stock of how they use the Royal Warrants that are granted to them and what steps they may need to put in place to transition to the use of a new Royal Warrant. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Which Royal Warrant(s) do you hold and when are they due to expire?
- Who is the Grantee within your organisation? I.e. the named individual who is responsible for compliance. Is this person still with the organisation?
- How do you use the Royal Warrant(s)?
- What processes will you need to put in place to transition to a new Royal Warrant and what will be the related cost, time and administrative implications required to make the transition? E.g. for rebranding packaging, premises, vehicles and stationery.
- Do you use your Royal Warrants in advertising? If so, will campaign materials or any internal guidance documents need to be revised?
- Do any of your supplier or other third party agreements (e.g. with media agencies) sub-licence the right to incorporate the Royal Arms into materials being created on your behalf? E.g. product packaging, stationery and marketing. If so, will any amendments need to be made to the agreements or associated brand guidelines?
- Will you want to apply for a Royal Warrant from one of the new Grantors?
If you have any queries or would like any further assistance on this or other advertising and consumer law matters, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Sonal or another member of our Advertising & Consumer Protection group.
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