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21 years of Duchy Originals

11th September 2013

The Prince of Wales tastes a biscuit during a reception to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Duchy Originals products at Clarence House, London

The Prince of Wales tastes a biscuit during a reception to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Duchy Originals products at Clarence House, London.

The Prince of Wales still has an appetite for the organic oaten biscuits he helped to create more than 20 years ago.

His Royal Highness could not resist nibbling one of the sweet treats when he staged a  garden party at Clarence House to celebrate the 21st anniversary of his Duchy Originals brand.

Since going on sale in 1992, consumers have enjoyed 70 million oaten biscuits - the first Duchy product and still one of its most popular items.

Now managed by Waitrose, the brand has expanded to 230 products, featuring everything from bacon and jam to beer and ciders, and has generated more than £11 million for charitable causes over the decades. 

When The Prince came across a stall manned by Michael Cox, a senior account manager from Scottish firm Walkers Shortbread, he took a bite of an oaten biscuit made by the firm.

Jim Walker, the company's joint managing director, was watching and later recalled how, during the biscuit's development, they had sent regular samples to The Prince, who wanted something "wholesome" and not "too sweet".

The Duchess of Cornwall was also feeling peckish and could not resist sampling some of the Duchy products on display.

The Prince founded Duchy Originals in 1990 to promote sustainable produce and champion organic foods.

 

The Duchess of Cornwall looks on as her husband The Prince of Wales speaks to guests during a reception to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Duchy originals products at Clarence House, London

The Duchess of Cornwall looks on as her husband The Prince of Wales speaks to guests during a reception to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Duchy originals products at Clarence House, London.

Among the guests invited to celebrate the brand were all elements of the chain that helped to make the goods a success, from farmers and customers to charities that have received donations from the funds raised.

In a speech, The Prince told them that the oaten biscuit "has endured as one of the brand's most popular products especially, I'm glad to say, in the ever-growing international market".

He went on: "Thank you to all of you who are here today who have played such an important part in helping to create a brand, at the end of the day, that really does take the biscuit."

His Royal Highness added: "The brand represents the very best of sustainably sourced and organic British products.

"Right from the start preserving our heritage, upholding traditional skills and supporting our local communities were a fundamental importance to the brand.

"If that was important 21 years ago, I happen to believe it is even more so today. With accelerating climate change, exponentially rising costs of fuel and fertiliser and an unsustainably growing population, we have to find ways to live more sustainably."

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Duchy Originals 21st birthday reception

Published on 13th September 2013

Ladies and gentlemen I must say it's a remarkable occasion this really, to think that we've managed to reach 21 years old with Duchy Originals! When you first start something like this, certainly as far as I'm concerned, you never think you are going to last more than five years, and when you launch the first product, you wonder whether anybody out there is ever going to buy it!

Anyway for some remarkable reason a few people did, and it's wonderful for me today to see so many people here who played such an important part in helping to get Duchy Originals off the ground. And there were one or two people who didn't just rubbish it straight away, but I think saw part of the point of what I was trying to get at.

But when I launched the first Duchy Originals product the oaten biscuit there were headlines in the tabloid papers saying "A shop soiled Royal". But twenty-one years on, I doubt if many people can appreciate just how difficult and challenging it was at that time to build one of the earliest organic brands. Just the process of developing a supply chain for organic sausages and bacon was a major challenge. We had to start from scratch, literally, and we had to do it by persuading a few courageous producers that it was worth their while going through the risky and exhaustive process of converting their entire operation to an organic regime.

At that time I wanted to try and show that it was possible to produce food of the highest quality by working in harmony with Nature in a way that would benefit both environmental and human health, and that I wante ...

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