This afternoon, The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and some of their extended family attended the annual Service of The Order of The Garter at Windsor Castle, where two new members were invested into the Order.
The announcements for the new members were made on St George’s Day in April; the Order is limited to 26 members. The ceremony takes place on the Monday before the beginning of Royal Ascot week; this day is known as Garter Day.
The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex and The Duke of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra all donned their robes and walked in front of The Queen and Prince Philip through the Upper, Middle and Lower Wards of Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel to see Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, and Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, be invested in the Order by The Queen in the Garter Throne Rooms inside the Castle.
After the ceremony, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh entertain the members and officers of the Order at a lunch in the Waterloo Chamber; following this the Knights proceed on foot to a service in St. George’s Chapel, wearing their Order robes and badge.
The Order of the Garter is one of the oldest orders of chivalry in the world still in existence. Founded in 1348 by King Edward III, legend says the order’s existence came about after a lady’s garter fell off during a ball. The King then apparently picked it up before handing it to the lady, uttering the words ‘Honi soit qui mal y pens’ – ‘shame on he who thinks evil of it’ – which became the Order’s motto. You may read more about the Order of the Garter as previously reported on Royal Central.
The Duchess of Cornwall was absent, suffering from sinusitis, but The Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Wessex were there to watch the procession (see above), as The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh walk past, the last of the Companions of the Order to arrive.
This is one of the few decisions The Queen makes herself, giving out membership as a personal gift. Recipients are chosen because they have held public office, contributed to national life or served the sovereign personally, such as to national security at the helm of MI5.
After the service, members leave in carriages and cars.