Updated: Feb 12
The Most Noble Order of the Garter is a British order of chivalry.
It is the world's oldest national order of knighthood in continuous existence & the pinnacle of the British honours system (after the Victoria Cross & George Cross).
Its membership is extremely limited, consisting of the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales—both being members ex officio & gaining membership upon acceding to one of the titles—& not more than 24 full members, or Companions.
Male members are known as Knights Companion, whilst female members are known as Ladies Companion. The Order can also include certain extra members (members of the British Royal Family & foreign monarchs), known as Supernumerary Knights and Ladies.
Only the Sovereign can grant membership to the Order.
The order's emblem is a garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (Middle French for 'Shame on him who thinks evil of it') in gold lettering. Members of the order wear it on ceremonial occasions.
King Edward III founded the Order of the Garter. The traditional year of foundation is usually given as 1348 (when it was formally proclaimed). However, The Complete Peerage, under "The Founders of the Order of the Garter", states the order was first instituted on 23 April 1344, listing each founding member as knighted in 1344. The list includes Sir Sanchet D'Abrichecourt, who died on 20 October 1345. Other dates from 1344 to 1351 have also been proposed. The King's wardrobe account shows Garter habits first issued in the autumn of 1348. Also, its original statutes required that each member of the Order already be a knight (what would now be referred to as a knight bachelor) & some of the initial members listed were only knighted that year.
St George's Chapel in Windsor is the mother church of the Order of the Garter & the location of special services in relation to the Order. During their lifetime, all members of the Order of the Garter are entitled to display their heraldic crests and banners in St George's Chapel.
Each June, on 'Garter Day', the members of the Order, wearing their habits & garter insignia, meet at Windsor Castle. When any new Knights of the Garter are due for installation, an investiture ceremony is held in the Throne Room of Windsor Castle on the morning of Garter Day. This ceremony is attended by all Knights Companions of the order, wearing the ceremonial habits & garter insignia, & also by their spouses. The wording of the oath sworn by the new knights at this ceremony & of the Admonitions addressed to them in turn by the prelate & chancellor of the order when the several items of insignia are placed upon them are extremely similar to the traditions of the past.
Edward VII invests Haakon VII of Norway with the insignia of the Order of the Garter in the Throne Room of Windsor Castle, 9 November 1906. Painting by Sydney Prior Hall.
At the investiture ceremony, two senior knights of the order assist the Sovereign by placing the garter around the left leg of the new knight & in the fastening of the riband & Lesser George about the body of the new knight, & in the adjustment of the mantle & the collar. After the investiture ceremony at Windsor is concluded, a state luncheon is held in the Banqueting Room. This is attended by the royal family, by all the Companions of the Order and their spouses, & by the Officers of the Order. After the banquet all the knights & ladies of the order, together with the prelate, chancellor & other officers of the order, in their mantles & ceremonial robes, led by the Military Knights of Windsor, move in procession, watched by a great crowd of spectators, through the castle, down the hill, which is lined with troops, to Saint George's Chapel for a worship service, before which the formal installation of the new knights takes place. While knights continued to be invested with their ensigns, the formal installation of knights at St George's Chapel ceased in 1805. Installation, along with the annual Garter service, returned in 1948; on the occasion of the order's 600th anniversary.
List of current Knights and Ladies of the Garter
Sovereign of the Order of the Garter - Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II. Year appointed: Sovereign since 1952. Current age: 96
Elizabeth II (born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms.
The Queen, as Princess Elizabeth, was made a Lady of the Order of the Garter in 1947 & upon her accession to the throne became the Sovereign of the Order. The Queen’s mantle (above) of dark blue velvet lined with white satin was supplied by the royal robe makers, Ede & Ravenscroft in 1947. Her Majesty wears this mantle every year for the Service of the Order of the Garter held here at Windsor Castle in St George’s Chapel on the third Monday in June. The mantle has also been worn for numerous portrait sittings, notably for Cecil Beaton in 1952 & more recently for Annie Leibovitz in 2012.
Royal Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter - The Prince of Wales.
Year appointed: 1958. Current age: 73.
Charles, Prince of Wales (born 14 November 1948), is the heir apparent to the British throne as the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
There are currently 20 Knights and Ladies Companion, with 4 spaces vacant (as of 11 May 2022).
(Member Number/Name/Known for/Year Appointed/current Age)
(986). The Duke of Abercorn - Former Lord Steward of the Household -1999 - 87.
(988). Field Marshal The Lord Inge - Former Chief of Defence Staff and Constable of the Tower of London -2001 - 86.
(992). The Lord Butler of Brockwell - Former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service - 2003 - 84.
(993). The Lord Morris of Aberavon - Former Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Attorney-General and Secretary of State for Wales - 2003 - 90.
(994). Sir John Major - Former Prime Minister - 2005 -79.
(999). The Lord Luce - Former Lord Chamberlain and Governor of Gibraltar - 2008 - 85
(1001). Sir Thomas Dunne - Former Lord Lieutenant of Hereford and Worcester - 2008 - 88.
(1002). The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers - Former Lord Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court - 2011 -84.
(1003). Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Boyce - Former Chief of Defence Staff -2011 -79.
(1004). Marshal of the Royal Air Force The Lord Stirrup - Former Chief of Defence Staff - 2013 -72.
(1005). The Baroness Manningham-Buller - Former Director-General of MI5 - 2014 - 73.
(1006). The Lord King of Lothbury - Former Governor of the Bank of England - 2014 - 74.
(1007). The Lord Shuttleworth - Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire - 2016 - 73.
(1008). Sir David Brewer - Former Lord Lieutenant of Greater London and former Lord Mayor of London - 2016 - 81.
(1010). The Viscount Brookeborough - Lord in Waiting to The Queen and Lord Lieutenant of Fermanagh - 2018 - 69.
(1011). Lady Mary Fagan - Former Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire - 2018 - 82.
(1013). The Marquess of Salisbury - Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and former Leader of the House of Lords - 2019 - 75.
(1014). Lady Mary Peters (pictured above) - Olympic gold medalist and former Lord Lieutenant of Belfast - 2019 - 82.
(1015). The Baroness Amos - Former Leader of the House of Lords, cabinet minister, and diplomat - 2022 - 68.
(1016). Sir Tony Blair - Former Prime Minister - 2022 - 69.
Royal Knights and Ladies Companion
(Age, as of 11 May 2022)
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent - Year Appointed: 1985 - aged 86.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (born 9 October 1935) is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II through their fathers, Prince George, Duke of Kent, and King George VI.
The Princess Royal - Year Appointed: 1994 - aged: 71.
Anne, Princess Royal (born 15 August 1950), is the second child & only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She is 17th in the line of succession to the British throne & has been Princess Royal since 1987.
The Duke of Gloucester - Year Appointed: 1997 - aged: 77.
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester (born 26 August 1944) is the second son of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester & Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, as well as the youngest of the nine grandchildren of George V & Queen Mary.
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy - Year Appointed: 2003 - aged: 85.
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy (born 25 December 1936) is the daughter of Prince George, Duke of Kent, & Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. She is a first cousin of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II,.
The Duke of York - Year Appointed: 2006 - aged: 62.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York (born 19 February 1960) is the third child & second son of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, he is ninth in the line of succession to the British throne.
The Earl of Wessex - Year Appointed: 2006 - aged: 58.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (born 10 March 1964) is the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is 14th in line of succession to the British throne.
The Duke of Cambridge - Year Appointed: 2008 - Aged: 39 (Prince William is the 1,000th Knight of the Garter).
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (born 21 June 1982) is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, & Diana, Princess of Wales. Since birth, he has been second in the line of succession to the British throne.
The Duchess of Cornwall - Year Appointed: 2022 - aged: 74.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (born Camilla Rosemary Shand, later Parker Bowles, 17 July 1947) is the wife of the Prince of Wales, the heir apparent to the British throne, & should he succeed, Camilla would automatically become queen consort.
Stranger Knights and Ladies Companion (also known as Extra Knights and Ladies Companion)
The Queen of Denmark - Year Appointed: 1979 - aged: 82.
Margrethe II (born 16 April 1940) is Queen of Denmark & commander-in-chief of the Danish Defence.
The King of Sweden - Year Appointed: 1983 - aged: 76.
Carl XVI Gustaf (born 30 April 1946) is King of Sweden. He ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf, on 15 September 1973.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain - Year Appointed: 1988 - aged: 84.
Juan Carlos I (born 5 January 1938) reigned as King of Spain from 22 November 1975 until his abdication on 19 June 2014.
Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands - Year Appointed: 1989 - aged: 84
Garter Banner of the Monarchs of the Netherlands. Beatrix reigned as Queen of the Netherlands from 1980 until her abdication in 2013. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands's Garter banner has retained her arms as monarch.
Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan - Year Appointed: 1998 - aged: 88
Akihito (born 23 December 1933) is a member of the Imperial House of Japan who reigned as the 125th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, from 7 January 1989 until 30 April 2019. He presided over the Heisei era, Heisei being an expression of achieving peace worldwide.
The King of Norway - Year Appointed: 2001 - Aged: 85.
Harald V (born 21 February 1937) is the King of Norway. He acceded to the throne on 17 January 1991.
The King of Spain - Year Appointed: 2017 - aged: 54
Felipe VI or Philip VI (born 30 January 1968) is the King of Spain. He ascended the throne on 19 June 2014 upon the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos I.
The King of the Netherlands - 2018 - aged 55
Garter Banner of the Monarchs of the Netherlands. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands's Garter banner has retained her arms as monarch.
Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Lancaster (later Duke of Lancaster) (d. 1361), the second appointee of the Order, shown wearing a tabard displaying the royal arms of England over which is his blue mantle or garter robe. Illuminated miniature from the Bruges Garter Book made c.1430 by William Bruges (1375–1450), first Garter King of Arms
Ladies of the Garter; Soon after the founding of the Order, women were appointed "Ladies of the Garter", but were not made companions. King Henry VII discontinued the practice in 1488; his mother, Margaret Beaufort, was the last Lady of the Garter before Queen Alexandra. Except for female sovereigns, the next Lady of the Garter named was Queen Alexandra, by her husband King Edward VII. King George V also made his consort, Queen Mary, a Lady of the Garter & King George VI subsequently did the same for his wife, Queen Elizabeth. Throughout the 20th century, women continued to be associated with the Order, but save for foreign female monarchs, they were not made companions. In 1987, however, it became possible to install "Ladies Companion of the Garter" under a statute of Queen Elizabeth II.
Photos from today (13 June 2022).
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