The King of Spain and the King of the Netherlands have been invested as supernumerary Knights of the Garter by the Queen at Windsor Castle. Their official welcome to the ancient Order of the Garter came just ahead of the traditional procession and service at St. George’s Chapel.
King Felipe VI of Spain was made a Knight during his State Visit to the United Kingdom in the summer of 2017. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was given the same honour during his own State Visit which took place in November 2018. The two men were invested in a short ceremony behind closed doors at Windsor Castle on the morning of June 17th 2019. They were joined by their consorts, Queen Letizia of Spain and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Lord Salisbury and Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters were also invested as Knight Companion and Lady Companion of the Order respectively.
The Queen then welcomed the new members of the Order and those already installed for a lunch at Windsor Castle. Elizabeth II hosted her guests in the Waterloo Chapel at the castle.
The Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III in 1348 inspired by the chivalric tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The Order of the Garter is dedicated to St. George, patron saint of England, and appointment is at the discretion of the reigning monarch. There were originally 25 knights as well as the king himself. Now the Order is made up of 24 knights and ladies companion as well as the Sovereign and the heir to the throne.
The Order is said to take its name from a legend that saw Edward III pick up the garter of the Countess of Salisbury when it fell to the floor during a dance at court. As he returned the garter to its owner, the king is said to have remarked ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense’ or ‘evil be to him who thinks evil of it’. However, other stories claim the order was inspired by the actions of Richard I who is said to have tied garters around the legs of the knights fighting alongside him in the Crusades. Edward III is said by some to have taken his lead from Richard when devising his new order.
Whatever the actual origins of the Order, it has been an integral part of royal life in England for over six centuries and the annual service and procession is a highlight of the regal year.
Now the Queen will be joined by two more monarchs for this very ancient tradition which links the monarchies of the 21st century with the royals of long ago.