By appointment to Her Majesty

There was a great deal we in the UK had to get used to when Her Majesty passed away. Some things changed instantly. We suddenly no longer spoke the Queen’s English but the King’s English. The words of the National Anthem transmogrified. (“Gracious King? That sounds weird,” was the collective opinion of most of the population.) Scouts had to change to whom they were loyal. Our top lawyers were no longer the Queen’s Counsel but the King’s.

Other things, reassuringly, could stay as they were for now. Does all the money still work? (Yes.) Are these stamps still legal? (Yes.) We’ll get around to altering them in our own sweet time. When I was young, you could have in your pocket coins bearing the heads of several monarchs. It’s just that the Queen reigned so long, we became used to the default option of one.

Some things that would have to change neither instantly nor gradually, however, but pretty darned soonish were labels and packaging. That’s because they bore the words: “By appointment to Her Majesty“.

By appointment” is a pretty understated phrase. Stuffy Palace courtiers would object if manufacturers starting pasting garish stickers on their bottles and cans bearing the words: “The Queen loves this!” or: “As eaten by Her Majesty!” Yet the words: “By appointment to HM The Queen” mean roughly the same thing.

British monarchs have been issuing Royal Warrants of Appointment since way back in the 1300s. I imagine that few people ever bought a product “because the King likes it” or “because Marie Antoinette says it’s a good’un” but it was a mark of quality. “The Royals drink it? Can’t be bad.”

The Queen was enthusiastic about her seals of approval: the Queen’s royal warrant currently applies to more than 600 businesses.

It’s an interesting pastime to peruse the list of companies that have Her Majesty’s endorsement and speculate how often their products featured in her daily life. Did she have Weetabix for breakfast every morning? With her Twinings tea? And a Gordon’s gin every evening? With a short stop for some Walker’s shortbread in between?

The warrant holders now have two years to discontinue the use of her Royal Arms on their stationery, labels, and marketing materials. (This instruction is in a pdf sent out by the Royal Warrant Holders Association to all its members, entitled Guidance Notes for Warrant Holders Upon The Death Of a Grantor. If you’re really concerned: PDF here.)

You can’t boast about the fact that the Queen likes your marmalade when, quite obviously, she no longer does.

Other royal families carry out this practice, too. The Japanese court is fond of Kikkoman soy sauce. Over in Brussels, the royals like Godiva chocolates, while, back in the day, the Romanovs in Moscow were sipping Cristal champagne at their Steinway pianos.

As grocers and manufacturers alert their design departments, the Royal Mail can afford to relax a little. There’s no rush to replace postboxes with the ER insignia on them. Heavens, you can still find ones with VR (for Victoria) on them if you know where to look.

Hail inertia!

A postbox declaring Elizabeth Regina…
Yet Victoria still reigns in some parts of the land

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