LONDON – The former owner of a firm that made lingerie for Queen Elizabeth II wept Thursday as she expressed regret that the company lost its royal warrant after her memoir disclosed details of a meeting with the monarch at Buckingham Palace.
June Kenton said Rigby & Peller lost the right to display the royal coat of arms in 2017 after she mentioned the royals in her book, “Storm in a D-cup.”
The 82-year-old broke down in tears as she explained that the memoir was meant to describe her experiences in building the business and that she meant no offence to the monarch or her family.
“There’s nothing in there that makes you think, ‘Oh! That’s naughty,'” Kenton told The Associated Press.
Kenton and her husband bought Rigby & Peller for 20,000 pounds ($27,100) in 1982, then sold a majority stake to Belgian luxury lingerie maker Van de Velde for 8 million pounds in 2011. Rigby & Peller had held the royal warrant as corsetiere to the queen since 1960.
A royal warrant is a mark of recognition for those who supply specific goods or services to the Royal Household. For example, Fortnum & Mason has a warrant as “Grocer & Provision Merchant” to the monarch. Hunter & Hyland Ltd. supplies curtain rails and upholstery fittings.
There are currently about 800 royal warrant holders, including individuals, small firms and global conglomerates.
Kenton insists her autobiography was no tell-all book. She even sent Buckingham Palace a copy when the book was published last year.
Unaware of the rules governing the release of information on private meetings with the royals, Kenton was surprised that describing her trepidation on entering the monarch’s bedroom would be considered offensive, or that recounting how the Queen Mother ignored Princess Margaret’s opinions on hats might be problematic.
“Shall I tell you what I do?” Kenton quoted the Queen Mother as saying. “I pretend to listen to Margaret and then, once she has gone, I order what I want.”
Her discussion of Princess Diana and her sons, Princes William and Harry, might be a bit more problematic.
“I never met Diana’s boys, but I used to give her lingerie and swimwear posters for them to put up in their studies at Eton,” Kenton wrote.
While Kenton does recount her first meeting with the monarch, she focuses on her surprise that the queen turned on the lights for herself, not the details of her fitting.
“We never, ever have discussions of what we see in the fitting room,” Kenton said. “That’s between you and the customer.”
But the royals take a dim view of any private conversation being revealed — even if the content might appear innocuous.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment Thursday.
“In respect of Royal Warrants, we never comment on individual companies,” the palace said in a statement.
Rigby & Peller confirmed the loss of the royal warrant.
“Rigby & Peller is deeply saddened by this decision and is not able to elaborate further on the cancellation out of respect for Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Warrant Holders Association,” the company said in statement. “However, the company will continue to provide an exemplary and discreet service to its clients.”
Kenton said her memoir was meant to celebrate the success of the business and share its lessons with her children and grandchildren.
“It’s very sad to have ended like this,” she said, adding that she never meant to hurt the royal family.
“I am completely and utterly heartbroken. I apologize for anything I might have done or said in the book. It was totally unintentional. I just think the world of them.”