The Royal Forums

The Royal Forums (
-   Official Royal Jewels (
-   -   Order of the Garter (established 1348) (

HMQueenElizabethII 06-12-2005 12:40 AM

Order of the Garter (established 1348)

The Order of the Garter is the most senior and the oldest British Order of Chivalry and was founded by Edward III in 1348.

The Order, consisting of the King and twenty-five knights, was intended by Edward III to be reserved as the highest reward for loyalty and for military merit.

Like the Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), the other founder-knights had all served in the French campaigns of the time, including the battle of Crécy - three were foreigners who had previously sworn allegiance to the English king: four of the knights were under the age of 20 and few were much over the age of 30.

The origin of the emblem of the Order, a blue garter, is obscure. It is said to have been inspired by an incident which took place whilst the King danced with Joan, Countess of Salisbury.

The Countess's garter fell to the floor and after the King retrieved it he tied it to his own leg. Those watching this were apparently amused, but the King admonished them saying, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense' (Shame on him who thinks this evil). This then became the motto of the Order.

Modern scholars think it is more likely that the Order was inspired by the strap used to attach pieces of armour, and that the motto could well have referred to critics of Edward's claim to the throne of France.

The patron saint of the Order is St George (patron saint of soldiers and also of England) and the spiritual home of the Order is St George's Chapel, Windsor. Every knight is required to display a banner of his arms in the Chapel, together with a helmet, crest and sword and an enamelled stallplate.

These 'achievements' are taken down on the knight's death (and the insignia are returned to the Sovereign), but the stallplates remain as a memorial and these now constitute one of the finest collections of heraldry in the world.

The insignia of the Order have developed over the centuries: starting with a garter and badge depicting St George and the Dragon. A collar was added in the sixteenth century, and the star and broad riband in the seventeenth century.

Although the collar could not be decorated with precious stones (the statutes forbid it), the other insignia could be decorated according to taste and affordability. George IV, well-known for his vanity, left 55 different Garter badges of varying styles.

Over the years, a number of knights have been 'degraded' (for the crimes of heresy, treason or cowardice), the most recent example being the Duke of Ormond in 1715, or even executed - such as Lord Scrope of Masham (a childhood friend of Henry V), and the 3rd Duke of Buckingham in 1521. Charles I wore his Order (ornamented with over 400 diamonds) to his execution in 1649.

From the eighteenth century to 1946, appointments to the Order (and to the Order of the Thistle) were made on advice from government.

Today, the Order has returned to its original function as a mark of royal favour; Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the Sovereign to honour those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally.

The number of knights is limited to 24 plus royal knights. For much of its history, the Garter was limited to the aristocracy, but today the knights are from varied backgrounds. If there are vacancies in the Order, appointments are announced on St George's Day (23 April).

Every June, the Knights of the Garter gather at Windsor Castle, where new knights take the oath and are invested with the insignia. A lunch is given in the Waterloo Chamber, after which the knights process to a service in St George's Chapel, wearing their blue velvet robes (with the badge of the Order - St George's Cross within the Garter surrounded by radiating silver beams - on the left shoulder) and black velvet hats with white plumes.

The Queen (whose father George VI appointed her and her husband to the Order in 1947), as Sovereign of the Order, attends the service along with other members of the Royal family in the Order, including The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and The Princess Royal.

During the Middle Ages ladies were associated with the Order, although unlike today they did not enjoy full membership. One of the last medieval ladies to be honoured was Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII.

After her death in 1509 the Order remained exclusively male, except for reigning queens as Sovereign of the Order, until 1901 when Edward VII made Queen Alexandra a lady of the Order.

In 1987, The Queen decided that women should be eligible for the Garter in the same way as men. Women are therefore included in this number and currently Lady Thatcher (formerly Margaret Thatcher, first female prime minister of Great Britain) and Lady Soames (the youngest daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, also a holder of the Order of the Garter) hold this honour.

Since the early fourteenth century, foreign monarchs have been appointed to the Order, as a means of marking and securing alliances - one of the earliest such appointments was that of the Duke of Urbino by Edward IV in 1474.

Such appointments were and are occasionally made to non-Christian rulers (for example, the Shah of Persia in 1902), which prompted some debate over removing Christian imagery (the cross of St George) from the Order when it is given to non-Christian recipients; in the end, the design remained unchanged.

Foreign monarchs in the Order are known as 'Stranger Knights'. These knights are in addition to the number allowed by statute, and they include the kings of Spain and Sweden and the emperor of Japan.

Margrethe II 12-03-2005 11:14 PM

History and Information on the Order can be found here :)


ysbel 06-03-2006 03:25 PM

The blue ribbon from the Order of the Garter that King Charles I wore to his execution has been bought by a private buyer for over 4 thousand pounds.

From the BBC

From the picture it looks like only part of the ribbon remains.

Elspeth 06-03-2006 07:04 PM

According to the article, a number of museums had expressed interest. Are museums really in such bad shape that they couldn't afford that sort of price?

HighGoalHighDreams 06-19-2006 10:54 AM

I should certainly think that artifact from Charles I is worth MUCH more than pounds 4,000!

florawindsor 06-20-2006 11:51 AM

I am reading about order of the Garter on wikipedia,and in the article, it is said that on minor occasions. men can wear "the collar" on the shoulder with their uniforms(instead of the mantle). then I try to find a picture of it. in the trooping the colours thread i do find pictures of the Duke of Edingburgh wearing something like a chain across his shoulder, but it does not look like the Garter collar. can anyone tell me what the name of the chain-like thing is? and can anyone post a picture of any Knight of Garter wearing a collar on the shoulder in his uniform? thanks.

kelly9480 06-20-2006 12:01 PM

The chain is the collar.

florawindsor 06-20-2006 12:55 PM

thank you Kelly . but the chain i was talking about is the thing he wears on his right shoulder. the collar is the thing from his left to his right shoulder. is there a specefic name to the chain? what is it for?

kelly9480 06-20-2006 02:48 PM

Are you talking about the white ribbons? Those are apparently there to hold the collar in place.

Or the blue and gold cord? Those hold the robe together.

I'm looking at the pictures and I'm not seeing any chain on the right shoulder.

RoyalProtocol 06-21-2006 08:12 AM


Originally Posted by florawindsor

hi kelly the chains i was talking about is the thing i encircled with red lines.

These aren't "chains at all, there gold braid (cord) on a uniform to show rank.

Von Schlesian 06-28-2006 04:22 AM


Originally Posted by RoyalProtocol
These aren't "chains at all, there gold braid (cord) on a uniform to show rank.

Florawindsor, Royal Protocol,

You're both referring to an aiguillette, a mark of an Aide-de-Camp or Equerry to Her Majesty The Queen, a member of the Royal Family, or someone holding one of the Admiral, General or Marshal ranks in the armed forces. The aiguillette has long been a symbol of those holding these appointments (whether for life or a fixed shorter term). You'll find most senior members of the Royal family are appointed honourary Aides-de-Camp to Her Majesty, or if not, they wear the aiguillette simply by virtue of being an Admiral, General or Air Marshal.

Skydragon 06-19-2007 02:49 PM

The Queen robes up for the Order of the Garter in Windsor

Just two days after the pomp and splendour of the Trooping the Colour parade, the Queen was celebrating yet another of her country's oldest traditions in splendid style at the Order of the Garter service in Windsor. Wearing the distinctive ostrich-plumed hat and ceremonial robes and accompanied by Prince Phillip, on Monday she joined the 25 Knights and Ladies of the oldest surviving order of chivalry in the world.

The Queen robes up for the Order of the Garter in Windsor

Skydragon 07-08-2007 10:00 AM

This is quite a good site, it explains the history, order of service and procession.
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, its History, Ceremony, Coats of Arms and Crests.

Elspeth 11-16-2008 01:16 AM

Information on the Order of the Garter from the royal family's website:

The Monarchy Today > Ceremony and symbol > Ceremonies > Garter Day

Vestments of the Order

Garter Collar (so it says, but the page is labelled "Thistle Badge")

Garter Collar badge (Great George)

Probably made for George II

Another Great George (18th century)

Lesser George sash badge

Worn by George IV when Prince of Wales

Worn by Queen Victoria

Garter Star

The Queen's Garter Star


sgl 12-16-2008 10:18 PM

Are there any vacancies in the Order right now? From what I have read, it sounds like new Knights are admitted only when there is a vacancy. I do love seeing photos of the Queen in her jewels for this order.

Elspeth 12-16-2008 10:29 PM

Royal Knights can be admitted at any time, but regular knights need to wait for a vacancy. I don't think there's a vacancy at the moment, though.

ysbel 12-17-2008 01:08 AM

Here is the Order of the Garter that was given by James I to his brother-in-law, Danish King Christian IV. It is believed to be the oldest specimen of the Order of the Garter in existence.

Order of the Garter

SalannB 05-17-2011 11:39 AM

A bit of trivia also: the riband has been a few shades of blue, but the "cornflower blue" that it is now is where the phrase "true blue" came from.

Renata4711 06-18-2011 01:40 PM

A choice of "True Blues":

True Blue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mirabel 06-18-2011 02:08 PM


Originally Posted by Elspeth (Post 868383)
Royal Knights can be admitted at any time, but regular knights need to wait for a vacancy. I don't think there's a vacancy at the moment, though.

There must be a vacancy, because it's been stated that the two new Knights brought the number to 23. The limit is 24.

(I asked about this earlier and was informed that one Knight resigned too recently to be replaced yet).

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:59 PM.

Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2018
Jelsoft Enterprises