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Sunday, February 7, 1999 Published at 19:23 GMT


Royal warrant stubbed out

Gallaher has a year to withdraw the crest

The royal endorsement of the tobacco company Gallaher - makers of Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut cigarettes - is to be withdrawn.

The BBC's Alva McNicol: Guinness was the last high-profile firm to lose a royal warrant
The company will have a year to remove the Royal seal of approval from all its packaging, ending a 122-year agreement with the firm.

The Prince of Wales, a fervent anti-smoker, was reportedly instrumental in the withdrawal, which has been welcomed by anti-smoking groups.

Director of pressure group Ash, Clive Bates, said the move was one more step in the right direction.

'Addictive and lethal product'

"No one thing is going to reverse the tide of smoking. It is just a logo, but it is not any old logo. It's probably the ultimate logo.

Clive Bates: It adds a lustre of respectability
"It adds a lustre of respectability and prestige to Benson and Hedges cigarettes that the product simply does not deserve.

"It's always been obscene that they have been able to conceal what they are really selling, which is an addictive and lethal product behind this guise of respectability conferred by the royal crest."

[ image: The royal crest will disappear from Benson and Hedges cigarettes]
The royal crest will disappear from Benson and Hedges cigarettes
A palace spokesman said the rescinding of the royal warrant was the result of a lack of demand in the royal households.

The Queen's father, grandfather and great-grandfather all died of smoking-related illnesses.

The Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, is a smoker but it is not known whether the Queen herself ever smoked.

Royal warrants are granted to suppliers of goods and services to the Sovereign and indicates a relationship between the Crown and individual companies or tradesman.

[ image: The royal crest is granted to around 850 firms]
The royal crest is granted to around 850 firms
There are currently about 850 royal warrant holders which regularly supply goods and services to the royal households.

Royal warrants are granted only by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales.

To become eligible for the status of royal tradesman a company must be able to show that it has supplied a substantial amount of goods or services to the Royal Household for a period of not less than three consecutive years.

Royal warrants are now issued for five years and are then subject to review.

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