Referring to Royal birthday’s in adverts

This year marks Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday and will be a celebration of The Queen’s life, her love of horses, her dedication to the Commonwealth and international affairs and her deep involvement with the Navy, Army and Air Force

In April Queen Elizabeth II will become the first reigning British monarch to reach the age of 90. This will be one of the biggest highlights of 2016. Events will be taking place in April, May and June, some of which are free and some of which require tickets.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh will also celebrate his 95th birthday on 10 June 2016. This year.

The circumstances where it is likely to be acceptable to feature members of the Royal Family in marketing without permission are fairly limited, and you need to take care when linking campaigns to this occasion.   Celebrations are fast approaching, and marketers need to be aware when referencing the Royal Family in advertisements.

While it’s tempting to link marketing campaigns to these occasions, you must be mindful of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) codes.

Firstly, the Queen is pleased to approve that the rules governing the commercial use of Royal Photographs and Insignia may be temporarily relaxed to allow the use on certain souvenirs of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

Download the Souvenir Guidelines

Only in limited circumstances can you show or mention a member of the Royal Family without prior permission

CAP code states that members of the Royal Family shouldn’t normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission but an incidental reference (unconnected with the advertised product), or references to material such as a book, article or film about a member of the Royal Family, may be acceptable.

In light of this, very general references to the Queen’s birthday or expressions of birthday wishes seem likely to be acceptable, but ads must not claim or imply that a product is endorsed by the Royal Family or that a product is affiliated with Royal events if it’s not.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has previously upheld complaints about advertising that implied Royal endorsement and also which, although not implying endorsement, used imagery of members of the Royal Family without permission.

Don’t feature the Royal Arms/Emblems or refer to a Royal Warrant without the relevant permissions

Featuring the Royal Arms or Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant are all likely to be seen as claiming or implying an endorsement and, any use of the former is prohibited without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and any references to the latter should be checked with the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association.

Take care not to mislead when advertising souvenir products

As with all ads, marketers of souvenirs must ensure that their copy does not materially mislead, for example, an ad for a ‘Prince William Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll’ was banned on the grounds that the image in the ad was not an accurate representation of the product.   Although the ASA can, and will, take action on a single complaint, it’s worth noting that the popularity of these products can result in higher complaint numbers when things go wrong.

While ads for souvenir products are not, in and of themselves, likely to be considered to imply a Royal endorsement, care should be taken not to imply that it’s official memorabilia if it’s not.

The Lord Chamberlain’s office has issued specific guidelines regarding the sale of souvenir products.

Only in limited circumstances can you show or mention a member of the Royal Family without prior permission

CAP code states that members of the Royal Family shouldn’t normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission but an incidental reference (unconnected with the advertised product), or references to material such as a book, article or film about a member of the Royal Family, may be acceptable.

In light of this, very general references to the Queen’s birthday or expressions of birthday wishes seem likely to be acceptable, but adverts must not claim or imply that a product is endorsed by the Royal Family or that a product is affiliated with Royal events if it’s not.

The ASA has previously upheld complaints about advertising that implied Royal endorsement and also which, although not implying endorsement, used imagery of members of the Royal Family without permission.

If you want to check whether your references are likely to be compliant with the CAP Code, the Copy Advice team can help or visiting our advertising review pages.

General guidelines


A document produced by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office summarises the legal position governing the use, for commercial purposes, of the Royal Arms, Royal Devices, Emblems and Titles and of photographs, portraits, engravings, effigies and busts of The Queen and Members of the Royal Family.

Download ‘Guidance on the use of Royal Arms, names and images

Download ‘Guidance to applicants on the use of Royal names

Download the following appendixes:

ANNEX A – Paris Convention Members.pdf

ANNEX B – Royal Crowns.pdf

ANNEX C – Crowns for business purposes.pdf

ANNEX D – Royal Family.pdf 

ANNEX E – Royal residences.pdf

Sources: CAP & The Royal Household websites