Order of The Thistle 2012: Pomp, Ceremony, And a New Knight

  July 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm by

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The annual Order of the Thistle ceremony took place today amid the usual impressive display of pomp and centuries-old ceremony. The event – one of the highlights of the Queen’s annual Holyrood week – was all the more special this year since a new Knight was officially installed – the Earl of Strathearn (as Prince William is known in Scotland).

The installation ceremony was conducted by the Dean of the Thistle, Reverend Gilleasbuig Macmillan, and took place in the Thistle Chapel; it was broadcast through speakers to those in the cathedral. The Queen started the ceremony with, declaring: “It is our pleasure that his Royal Highness the Prince William, Earl of Strathearn, be installed a Knight of the most ancient and most noble Order of the Thistle.” Prince William then moved to a vacant stall within the Chapel before taking an oath: “I shall maintain the honour and dignity of the most ancient and most noble Order of the Thistle to the best power if God let. I shall never bear treason about in my heart against our Sovereign Lady the Queen, but shall discover the same to her. So defend me God.”

The ceremony at the city’s St Giles’ Cathedral was attended by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Sarah Chatto, and hundreds of invited guests. At the beginning of the Thistle ceremony, the Royal Family entered the St Giles Cathedral to a fanfare, accompanied by other members of the Order – all in traditional deed forest green robes. The service lasted about 45 minutes and included prayers, hymns and readings. Among those who gave a reading was Reverend Macmillan, who called on people to celebrate “the leadership the Queen continues to give”.

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The service concluded with a rendition of “God Save The Queen”, before the procession left the cathedral. Shortly afterwards, a parade down the Royal Mile celebrating the Diamond Jubilee began. The highlights included 400 pipers led by the Lothian and Borders Police band who marched from the City Chambers to the Scottish Parliament. Large crowds gathered to watch the ceremony and the subsequent parade, many waving Union Jack flags.

The Countess of Strathearn proudly watched her newly-invested husband, accompanied by Lady Sarah Chatto. Kate was wearing an Emilia Wickstead pale yellow dress, Emmy Scarterfield shoes, Whiteley hat, and Kiki McDonough drop earrings. She also carried a Strathearn tartan scarf – a nod to her Scottish title. Lady Sarah looked elegant in white dress which she combined with black shoes, hat and clutch, and a beautiful star-shaped brooch. Her Majesty wore a magnificent Emerald Necklace that matched her green Thistle robes perfectly.

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The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is the most senior Order in Scotland and the second-most senior in precedence in the United Kingdom, after only The Most Noble Order of the Garter. The order in its current version was founded in 1687 by James VII and II of Scotland and England, who claimed it was a revival of an earlier Order. The order’s emblem is the thistle – the national flower of Scotland. Its motto is” Nemo me impune lacessit” (“No one provokes me with impunity”).

Unlike most other honours, appointments to the Order are entirely in the personal gift of the Sovereign and are not made on the advice of the Government. It honours men and women who have held public office or who have contributed in a significant way to national life.

The Order consists of the Sovereign, sixteen Knights and Ladies, and extra Knights and Ladies. The last category includes members of the British Royal Family and foreign Monarchs. Currently, Extra Knights and Ladies of the Thistle are The Duke of Edinburgh (since 1952), The Duke of Rothesay (since 1977) , The Princess Royal (since 2000), and the newest addition – The Earl of Strathearn (since May 25, 2012).

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