Warrants have been issued for many years although there seems to be some doubt as to when the practice first started in this country. There is a record of a royal charter granted in 1155 by King Henry II to the Weavers' Company and it is thought that this was a type of warrant. It is known that King George IV (he who had been Prince Regent and ordered the building of Brighton's Royal Pavilion) caused warrants to be issued during his reign from 1820 to 1830.
Royal warrants are not peculiar to the United Kingdom. They are also issued in Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Monaco, Netherlands, Sweden and Thailand.
There are currently about 850 companies that hold warrants issued by the British Royal Family, indicating that the companies involved have supplied the family for at least five years and that there is a satisfactory trading relationship. As the holders are allowed to display the coat of arms or heraldic badge of the royal personage on the products, advertisements, letterheads etc they are able to indicate that the product is of good quality. Under the coat of arms are the words (and here I quote the wording on the bottle of washing up liquid in our kitchen):
By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen
Suppliers of Soap and Detergents
Proctor & Gamble
Harrods, the world-famous London department store, at one time held three warrants, issued by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. (Or was there a fourth, the Queen Mother's?) However, after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed, his father, the Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed who owned Harrods, insisted that the deaths were the result of a plot instigated by the Duke of Edinburgh and had the large coats of arms then displayed outside the store, torn down and burned. Never did think much of the man anyway.