The department store Fortnum & Mason has a long royal connection which continued throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
It was founded by William Fortnum, the footman of Queen Anne in 1707. Fortnum resold the queen’s half-melted candles to make more money. He teamed up with his landlord, Hugh Mason, and together they set up the first shop in St James’ Market.
Since then, the shop has acquired two Royal Warrants, which indicates that they are regular suppliers to the royal household. The first of these warrants is to Her Majesty The Queen as Grocers and Provisions Merchants, and the second to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Tea Merchants and Grocers.
Queen Elizabeth II was known to love their tea and reportedly drank a cup of Fortnum & Mason’s Earl Grey at breakfast every morning.
In 2012, she opened the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in her first joint appearance with the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge.
Former royal butler, Paul Burrell, spoke about The Queen’s Fortnum & Mason Christmas hamper on Channel 4’s ‘A Very Royal Christmas: Sandringham Secrets’. Burrell said the hamper included luxury treats including “fois gras en croute” with “champagne and claret” to drink.
She did some of her Christmas shopping in the shop, which was arranged months in advance.
Tom deStanley, 58, a former employee at the shop, said: “We were always so incredibly proud of our royal roots and took such pleasure in catering to the Royal Household.”
The association continued into the Queen’s final year with the shop being official partners for the celebration of the Platinum Jubilee.
As well as hosting Jubilee parties, they held a Platinum Pudding competition to find a new commemorative dessert, much as Coronation Chicken had been created for her coronation.
Judged by bakers including Dame Mary Berry, the competition was won by Jenna Melvin and the winning creation was a lemon and amaretti trifle.
The grocery shop has bucked the trend of declining sales on the high street and has been reporting good sales.
In recent years, it has expanded by opening shops on new sites for the first time. The main flagship store remains in Piccadilly with new shops in St Pancras station, Heathrow Airport, The Royal Exchange, and most recently, a first international branch in Hong Kong.
(Image credit: Picture creidt: Gryffindor, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)