Looking for a last-minute Valentine's Day gift that will surely impress your sweetie? Try taking a note from the royals family.
If you're in the mood for some gourmet chocolate, consider truffles crafted by Charbonnel et Walker. The brand might not be a household name in the U.S., but overseas they're kind of a big deal.
Select senior members of the royal family (including the queen, her husband Prince Philip and her son Prince Charles) have the power to grant businesses a royal warrant, which is essentially an official seal of approval. Companies awarded this special accolade have a history of serving the royals.
Today, the queen gets to decide who in the royal family has the privilege to grant such an esteemed honor, but that granting ability can be removed at any time.
Naturally, these royal warrants are extremely coveted as they are rather good for business. Charbonnel et Walker, a current royal warrant holder, was founded in London in 1875. According to the brand, its relationship to the royal family dates back to King Edward VII, who ruled from 1901 until his death in 1910. The brand's website states that today they are one of “the few chocolatiers to Her Majesty The Queen.”
"We were awarded the royal warrant as chocolate makers to Her Majesty The Queen in 1970," Jo Humphris, head of marketing for Charbonnel et Walker, told TODAY via email. "Charbonnel et Walker have been given this personal mark of recognition as tradesmen who regularly supply goods or service to Her Majesty The Queen.
"As Royal Warrant holders, Charbonnel et Walker are able to display the Royal Coat of Arms alongside their logo, provided they observe the Lord Chamberlain’s Rules. This privilege is held by very few other chocolate companies," Humphris explained, adding that the seal can be seen on all of the brand's gift boxes and packaging.
Since royal warrants are U.K.-based, products with this distinction are generally hard to find stateside.
But this year, quite a few American retailers are selling boxes of the fine chocolates ahead of Valentine's Day.
If your lover with a sweet tooth likes a variety of items, Charbonnel et Walker's Fine Milk & Dark Chocolate Selection is retailing $66 at Nordstrom.
And at Bloomingdales, a gorgeous heart-shaped box filled with pink champagne truffles is retailing for $45.
If you're trying to stick to a budget, Neiman Marcus currently has a box of Milk Sea Salt Caramel Truffles on sale for just $12.
According to the company, King Edward VII introduced Parisian chocolatier Madame Charbonnel from Paris to a woman named Mrs. Walker in London. Walker was known for her fine jewelry and gift boxes so the two formed a natural partnership in the luxury goods space.
Today, all of the companies artisanal chocolates are presented in beautiful gift boxes, making them ideal gifts for birthdays, holidays, hosts and, of course, loved ones.
Over the years, royals like Princess Diana, Prince Charles and the late Queen Mother have all enjoyed treats from Charbonnel et Walker. The company even designed a special chocolate for the 2018 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It was dubbed the "Meghan Markle Sparkle" chocolate.
While the queen has certainly enjoyed Charbonnel et Walker chocolates in the past, according to former royal chef Darren McGrady, they aren't her absolute favorites. That honor goes to another British brand.
Charbonnel et Walker, however, is the chocolate brand saved for special occasions.
“We used to order Charbonnel et Walker Champagne Chocolate Truffles every time the queen hosted a state banquet,” said McGrady. “We would make pastillage sugar dishes with the union flag and the visiting king, queen or president’s flag on them and fill them dishes with those chocolate truffles for after dinner with coffee.”
Guests of the queen would also receive a large box of Prestat Chocolates, another royal favorite, in their rooms. To make visitors feel right at home, the boxes would be adorned with ribbons featuring colors from the country flag of the guest.
When it comes to chocolate, it's no secret that the queen is a big fan.
Her favorite cake, a chocolate biscuit cake, was served as Prince William's groom's cake during his 2011 royal wedding reception.
“The queen’s a chocoholic, she knows her chocolate. The darker chocolate, the better for her,” added McGrady.