British Royal Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts of Advertising and Promotion

The announcement of the Royal engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton is a cause for celebration in the UK. As advertisers, retailers, and the British Government eye up the opportunities for related advertising, merchandising, and tourism, it is the perfect opportunity to explore and refresh our knowledge on the rules and etiquette in the UK regarding advertising and promotion of the Royal Family and Royal events. By and large, etiquette in the UK dictates that members of the Royal Family should not be used in any form of marketing communication or advertising which suggests their affiliation with or endorsement of a particular product and service. The UK's Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) CAP Code of advertising practice endorses this view, advising that members of the Royal Family should not be shown or mentioned in marketing communications without their prior permission (rule 6.2). Incidental references to Royal Family members which are unconnected to the advertised product, or are merely a reference to a book, film, or article about the individual, may be acceptable. It remains to be seen whether the ASA will take any action in respect of Irish budget airline company Ryanair, which has already used a picture of the newly engaged couple to promote their low air fares Rule 3.52 of the CAP Code advises that Royal Arms or Emblems should not be used by marketers without prior permission of the Lord Chamberlain, the senior official in the Royal Household. Conventional representations of the Royal Arms are as follows: Section 99 of the UK Trade Mark Act 1994 takes a stronger view, making use of the Royal Arms or Emblems (or arms or emblems so closely resembling the Royal Arms that they are likely or calculated to deceive) in connection with a business and without the authority of the Queen, a criminal offence The UK Trade Mark Act also prevents applications to register trade marks incorporating elements of Royalty, such as the Royal Arms, or signs or devices resembling the Royal Arms, representations of the Royal Crown or any Royal flag, representations or portraits of the Royal Family, names of the Royal Family or names and pictorial representations of Royal residences (e.g. Balmoral), unless prior consent has been given by or on behalf of the Queen. Applications to register marks incorporating the word ROYAL may also be opposed or rejected, particularly where the word is used in relation to high quality goods which might suggest Royal patronage, for example luxury or organic foods or high quality porcelain, or where the word is used alone or in conjunction with a descriptive word (e.g. ROYAL VENISON for meat). Marks of Royal Patronage, or Royal Warrants, may be applied to goods and services which have received formal endorsement by the Royal Family for their quality and excellence, but only by the particular Warrant Holder (individual or company) to whom the right has been granted. So etiquette and law dictates that images or references to the Royal Family, or Royalty in general, should be used with extreme caution. However if Prince William's engagement and Royal Wedding generates anything like the fervour created by that of his parents, the nation's appetite for Royal memorabilia and commemorative merchandising will be considerable. If the estimated projections of the boost the Royal Wedding may have to the British economy are correct (£620 million has been suggested), marketers will likely want a slice of the royal pie, etiquette or not. – Richard Dickinson and Gemma Davies

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