King Charles urged to revoke Unilever’s royal warrant over Russia

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 19-Jun-2024

The consumer goods giant was named in a letter calling for the removal of awards from companies operating in Russia amid the ongoing war

King Charles is facing pressure to revoke Unilever’s royal warrant over its alleged links with Russia.

B4Ukraine, a coalition of pro-Ukrainian organisations, sent a letter to the UK monarch calling for the removal of awards from companies operating in Russia amid the ongoing war. 

The group named the consumer goods giant alongside Nestlé, Bacardi and Cadbury-owner Mondelez in the letter.

“The continued presence and financial support of these companies in Russia only serves to prolong the brutal war against Ukraine,” said the activist group.

“We urge the Royal Family to stand in solidarity with Ukraine by demonstrating that companies contributing to the suffering and devastation in Ukraine will not be bestowed with the privilege and honour of holding a royal warrant.

“Such a decisive step would not only demonstrate the solidarity of the Royal Family with Ukraine but also convey that the Family does not condone the continued presence of these companies in Russia.”

Royal warrants are typically granted to companies supplying goods or services that allow the Royal Household to operate or for personal use.

Brands such as Clarins UK, Elizabeth Arden and Molton Brown hold the award, allowing them to display a coat of arms signifying their products are used by the royal family.

Unilever was first granted its warrant in 2016 by the late Queen Elizabeth, but was not named in the most recent round of awards in May under Charles' new reign.

The royal warrant becomes void after the grantor passes away, requiring companies to phase out the display of the coat of arms within two years.

Unilever will have to discontinue its use of the Royal Arms by September 2024.

The Dove-owner has previously come under fire for its reported links with Russia after it was named an ‘international sponsor of war’ by the Ukrainian government in 2023.

"After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the company promised to suspend all imports and exports of its products to and from Russia, as well as halt all media and advertising spending," NAPC said in a statement at the time.

"However, a year later, Unilever Russia's profits doubled from 4.8bn rubles (US$80m) in 2021 to more than 9.2bn rubles ($153m) last year.”

In response, Unilever said if it were to abandon its brands in Russia, "they would be appropriated – and then operated – by the Russian state”.

It is not the only beauty company maintaining a presence in Russia.

In November 2023, L'Oréal said it was conducting "limited" business operations in Russia to protect the safety of its employees in the country.

"And it is this, I believe, that allows us today, I hope, to avoid seizures or actions that could be taken against our assets and above all against our employees,” said CEO L'Oréal Nicolas Hieronimus.

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