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Behind the scenes at this year’s Order of the Garter

As the crowds began to take their places in Windsor ahead of the 2019 Order of the Garter procession and ceremony, the royals involved in this year’s event took to social media to share some behind the scenes details. From the stunning setting for a very regal meeting to an ancient garter itself, this year’s ceremony has been told in sparkling detail.

The Royal Collection Trust opened the doors to the Waterloo Chamber in Windsor Castle which will be the setting for the lunch that the Queen, as Sovereign of the Garter, hosts for the Knights Companion and Ladies Companion of the Order ahead of the traditional procession to St. George’s Chapel for the annual service.

The room is one of the most used in Windsor Castle but while it’s usually part of the  main tourist route through the royal residence, on Garter Day it was for the Queen and her guests only. The RCT shared footage of the huge amount of work that goes into putting together the giant Waterloo table where lunch is served. The table has undergone an extensive polish over the past months and can be seen shining beneath the glittering tableware laid out for the royal guests.

The Chamber itself was commissioned by King George IV and celebrates the British victory over the French Emperor, Napoleon, at the Battle of Waterloo. Unsurprisingly, there is a very large portrait of the Duke of Wellington, who led the victorious forces, in the room. The duke, who was himself a Knight of the Garter, is one of many famous figures represented around the room and one of the newest supernumerary knights, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, will have taken his first lunch as part of the Order under the watchful gaze of one of his great-great grandfather, King Willem II of the Netherlands, whose portrait also hangs in the room.

King Willem II’s own father, Willem I, was the star of the show over on the official Dutch royal social media channels as the final countdown to the 2019 Order of the Garter ceremony got under way. The Dutch royals shared a video of the traditional robes worn by King Willem I for his own installation in the order back in 1814. Over 200 years later, his descendant will put on the same elaborate outfit – a velvet cloak, a plumed hat and the intricate collar – for his own welcome into this ancient tradition. The Dutch royals also shared images of the famous garter embellished with the order’s motto of Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense which gives the order its name.

And it was also revealed ahead of Garter Day that the Queen had invited King Felipe and Queen Letizia to stay at Windsor Castle for the night before the main ceremonies. No doubt they had plenty more royal history to talk about as final preparations were made for the most modern staging of this ancient tradition.

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