By Royal Appointment

jennylinford.co.uk
  • No tags were found...

Jenny Linford's By Royal Appointment.pdf

By RoyalAppointmentMeeting the producers behind the Royals' favourite brands, JennyLinford goes in search of what makes a product fit for The Queen74 Great British Food


From Trooping the Colour to theState Opening of Parliament,public pageantry is the visibleface of Britain’s royal family.Behind the scenes, however,there are the practical andcomplex logistics of running royal households,including supplying them with goods and services.While discretion is important, companiesproviding the royal household can be publiclyrecognised by being granted a Royal Warrant.The Royal Warrant system traces its historyback to the Royal Charter granted by KingHenry II to the Weavers’ Company in 1155 andis managed today by the Royal Warrant HoldersAssociation. A sizeable number of the RoyalWarrants are granted for food, with holdersranging in size from small businesses likeGloucestershire cheese-maker Charles Martell,to large companies such as Waitrose, Cadbury’sand Nestlé. The list of what they supplyincludes both day-to-day staples such as bread,eggs and sugar and luxuries like smoked salmonand fine chocolates.Royal households have historically played animportant part in the economy, explains foodhistorian at the Historic Royal Palaces, MarcMeltonville. “The physical delivery of hard cashwas very important historically. When the royalhousehold buys, solid silver is heading my way,heading to my town, heading to my localeconomy. That’s why no one criticises palacesfor spending a fortune on meals. That’s not seenas waste; it’s seen as a good thing. If the kingdoesn’t have a lavish meal every day, then thefarms around his country don’t earn money. Infairytale stories, no one ever criticises a richking; it’s miserly kings who are unpopular.”The importance of supplying royalty is onethat increased over the centuries, points outMarc. “As one goes into the period of literacy,throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries,with the rise of the written word and advertisingand certainly when we get into the age ofnewspapers, then the Royal Warrant is a badgeof success. Once you can put an advert in theGentleman’s Gazette that your eggs aren’t anyeggs but are given the royal seal of approval,that’s very important.”Regal ProvisionsFounded in 1707, elegant food emporiumFortnum and Mason, situated close to St James’Palace, has two Royal Warrants, as Grocer andProvision Merchant to HM the Queen and TeaMerchant and Grocer to HRH The Prince ofWales. “We have served the royal family fromthe very beginning because William Fortnum,one of our founders, was a footman at the courtof Queen Anne,” explains the store’s archivistDr Andrea Tanner.Over the centuries,Fortnum and Mason grewfrom a small grocery businessselling tea, candles and spices,to a company specialising inhigh-quality foods with an eyefor innovation. “The people whoshopped at Fortnum’s were the peoplewho built and ran the British Empire; theywere the officer classes and they used theshop to source things for them. When they wereabroad we sent themthe taste of home;when they were athome we gave thema taste of abroad.”“We were warrantholders throughoutQueen Victoria’s longreign, I’m glad to say.She instructed us tosend our vast quantities of concentrated beeftea to Miss Nightingale at Scutari for her nursesto give to the troops. We created ourSandringham blend coffee specifically for herson, Edward VII; we still sell it. Having theRoyal Warrant means a great deal to us.” Forthe Diamond Jubilee, Fortnum’s has launcheda range of beautifully-packaged treats, fromcake and biscuits, to Royal Sovereign StawberryPreserve. “We have been Her Majesty’s loyalservants for 60 years and we wanted tocelebrate her Diamond Jubilee in a big way, sowe settled on the theme of the Queen’s beastsbut, because it’s a joyous occasion, we’ve hadfun with them, making them brightly coloured,dancing and playing musical instruments.”Another historic London food shop witha Royal Warrant is cheesemonger Paxtonand Whitfield, firstgranted by QueenVictoria in 1850and currentlyholding RoyalWarrants to supplycheeses to the Queenand HRH Prince Charles.Paxton & Whitfield’s stockreflects the thriving Britishcheese scene, says branch manager,Rhuaridh Buchanan, “with best-sellersbeing Montgomery’s Cheddar and CropwellRoyal Warrants“Once you canput an advert inthe Gentleman’sGazette, that youreggs aren’t anyeggs but are giventhe royal sealof approval, that’svery important”Bishop Stilton – veryclassic British cheeses.There are also lots offantastic newer Britishcheeses that sell well,such as Berkswell andTunworth.” Service is animportant aspect of whatPaxton’s does. “Our staffhere really are passionate andknow their products, so if you wantto learn a bit more about the cheese you’relooking for or if, indeed, you don’t know aboutcheese and would like some help, that’s whatthey’re there for.”Of course, Royal Warrant holders are notbased solely in London; in fact, they are locatedall around the British isles. Out in Essex, Wilkin& Sons, maker of Tiptree Preserves, is veryproud of the fact it has held a Royal Warrant for101 years. This is a veteran business with itsroots, literally, in the Essex countryside. “PeterWilkin is our chairman and his family has beenfarming here since 1770 and we have beenmaking jam here since 1885,” explains jointmanaging director Walter Scott. “The story isthat we were growing strawberries which wecouldn’t always sell, so we thought we’d turnthem into jam. We still grow as much of the fruithere for our jams as we can. Our Little Scarletstrawberry jam is what we’re famous for. It’s avariety derived from the Alpine strawberry witha fantastic flavour. I think there’s somethingabout slow-ripening English fruit which makesthem develop a more intense flavour. We’ve alsogot old-fashioned greengage trees here and thetaste of the fruit they provide is exquisite.”To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, Wilkin & Sonsis bringing out 2012 jars of Jubilee Marmalade,matured for five years, and a special jam usingthe aptly-named Jubilee strawberry.Great British Food 75


MARK OFDISTINCTIONWith so many companies holdingRoyal Warrants, it's impossible towrite about them all, but these twocompanies are also proud to supplythe Royal FamilyEast-Anglian based sausage maker Muskshas held Royal Warrants for its NewmarketSausage since 1907 and currently holds onefor Her Majesty since 2005. This specialsausage is available from supermarkets inEast Anglia, and nationally via mail order.Visit www.musks.com for more information.High-quality meat supplier Donald Russellwas presented with a Royal Warrant on 25thNovember 1987 by H.M. The Queen for meat& poultry. Visit www.donaldrussell.co.uk toorder its delicious meat for home delivery.Potted HistoryUp in Morecambe Bay, Baxters, founded in 1799,a tiny company consisting of only five people,is a proud holder of the Royal Warrant as‘Purveyors of Potted Shrimps’ to Her Majestythe Queen. “Our potted shrimps are 85% brownshrimp, 15% butter,” emphasises Baxters’manager Mark Smith. “We are very traditional.Everything’s locally sourced and we're stilldealing with the same families of fishermenwe’ve worked with for generations. They go outin small, one-man boats, pull a net behind them,riddle the shrimp through to get the size theyrequire and boil them in sea water. Everything’sdone on the tide.”Baxters painstakingly picks through the tinybrown shrimps to remove any bits of tails, backsand whiskers, then stews them with butter anda secret mixture of spices. The Baxters PottedShrimps supplied today to Her Majesty theQueen are made to exactly the same recipe asthose supplied by Baxters to the Queen Mother.Geographical proximity to royal householdsis, understandably, one way in which the traderelations which may lead to Royal Warrantsbeing granted can begin. Up in Scotland, thepicturesque town of Ballater, close to Balmoral,is known as ‘the Royal Warrant town’ becauseof the number of Royal Warrants held by thetown’s businesses. Among these is butcherH.M. Sheridan, Purveyor of Meat & Poultry toboth Her Majesty the Queen and HRH PrinceCharles. Co-owners Barry Florence and JohnSinclair began working in the shop for MikeSheridan as teenagers, explains Barry. “We grewup working here. Mike looked after us and whenhe passed away in 2006 he left us the shop,which we were very surprised about.”The meat at Sheridan’s is “locally sourced, webuy a lot on the hoof. We’ve got five farmers thatwe speak to regularly and they select the bestmeat for us. We trust them and they trust us,”continues Barry. In addition to its matured beef,the business is also noted for its own-madesausages (with flavours including Pork and Irnbru) and game. “We sell a huge amount ofvenison from neighbouring estates; all from wildred deer, so it has a lovely flavour and is reallynice and lean. The residents of Ballater are veryproud that the Royals choose to come here onholiday. It’s a great honour to supply the royalhousehold and the coat of arms is a fantasticbadge of quality. Any business has federationsyou can be part of, but if you have a RoyalWarrant above your door, that’s hard to beat.”Wind PoweredFlour Miller to HRH Prince Charles since 1998,Shipton Mill is housed in an old watermill inTetbury, Gloucestershire, close to Highgrove.”We spend a lot of our time selecting wheatfrom farms from all over the country,” explainsmiller-owner John Lister, “and choose only thebest five percent of the wheat grown, whichwe use to make our range of around 200 flours.Each one is suited to a different process anda different style of bread-making. Selectioninvolves looking at all sorts of criteria:brightness, smell and protein quantity. Farmersalso produce different wheats with varyingcharacteristics; that’s part of the fun! We havelong, long relations with the farmers, including,of course, his Royal Highness’s farm. We’vebeen milling its wheat and producing flour forits products for many years. I think PrinceCharles has always been very keen to supportsmall businesses, especially those usingtraditional techniques. I don’t know how manymills are left in Britain, but it’s not many,so it’s fantastic to have this accolade.”Even in the 21st century, supplying goodsto the royal family continues to carry aconsiderable cachet. “I must admit,” musesfood historian Marc Meltonville “when you seea crest on a van it does give a tick of approval.You look at a bottle of gin and think 'if it’s goodenough for the Queen Mum, it must be goodenough for me'! I think it still works at thatlevel. One has to realise that warrants can betaken away; they are renewed every five years.They are as up-to-date and effective as anygovernment charter mark; you’ve got it becauseyou are still good.”76 Great British Food

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines