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Royal Deeside : Royal Warrants

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Ballater is often thought of as the 'Royal Warrant' town because many shops display up to three Royal Warrants. Although the large number of warrants can be explained by the proximity of royal Balmoral Castle and Birkhall it is also an indication of the high quality of service provided by many local businesses. The Ballater Business Association represents Ballater businesses

The warrants are awarded by members of the Royal Family to businesses or other organisations that have repeatedly provided services of a sufficiently high standard.

The article below provides a brief background on Royal Warrants.

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Three Royal Warrants on display above the fruit and flower shop in Ballater

Visitors to Ballater often stop to look at the Royal Warrants that adorn many of the shops and garages in Ballater. These Warrants lend distinction to the village and in particular to the businesses displaying them. Inspection reveals that there are three different warrants on display issued on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, the late Her Majesty the Queen Mother and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. But what is a Royal Warrant?

Royal Warrants may be awarded to tradesmen (manufacturers or suppliers) who have supplied 'substantial' goods to the Royal Household over a period of three years. The Warrants last ten years and may be renewable through good service and behaviour. A tradesman seeking a Royal Warrant has his application assessed by the Royal Household Tradesmens' Warrant Committee. The committee may then recommend acceptance to the appropriate member of the Royal Family who takes the final decision.

The successful tradesman receives a Royal Warrant of Appointment signed by the Lord Chamberlain. (It is granted not to a company but to an individual who must be either the owner or an executive director.) The tradesman may then display The Royal Arms supported by the 'By Appointment' legend on their stationery and advertising material and on the outside of their premises.

The Royal Warrants are a natural development from The Royal Charters, the first of which was granted in 1155. It is thought the first Royal Warrant was granted about 400 years ago by Queen Elizabeth I. The system of issuing Warrants was greatly expanded by Queen Victoria and there are now over 800 Royal Warrant holder's businesses distributed throughout the United Kingdom. (And some come from elsewhere.) The Warrant Holders vary greatly in size and in the services they provide. At one extreme are giant companies like Cadbury's and at the other are individuals like the 'drystane dyker' who repairs and builds the stone walls of Balmoral and Birkhall. There is even a woman who provides nosegays to the Queen but does not sell them to anyone.

Many of the Warrant holders are shopkeepers from villages, such as Ballater, or places which lie close to Royal residences and provide them services. Usually the general nature of the service is displayed in the legend but the holders may not reveal the details of the service provided. The Royal Warrants are a guarantee of the quality of the service. The traders of Ballater who hold Warrants appreciate the honour and distinction bestowed on them.

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