The Queen led members of the Royal Family at the traditional annual Garter day ceremony at Windsor Castle today, joined also by the knights and ladies of the Order for the service which took place at St George’s chapel.
The Order of the Garter was established by Edward III in 1348 and is the oldest British Order of Chivalry.
The Bands of the Household Cavalry and the Irish Guards contributed musical support to the Knights of the Garter as they assembled at Windsor Castle.
Each year, on the Monday of Royal Ascot week, known as Garter Day, the Knights come together with The Queen. Any new knights take the oath and are invested with the insignia. This year did not see any new investitures as there are three open spots within the Knights and Ladies Companion.
After lunch in the Waterloo Chamber, the Knights proceeded from the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle down the hill to a ceremony in St George’s Chapel.
Joining Her Majesty were, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cambridge, The Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex, The Princess Royal, The Duke of Kent, The Duke of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra.
The Royal Knights and Ladies walked the route 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 route was lined by soldiers from the Household Cavalry. The Blues and Royals wore their dark blue tunics, silver cuirasses and helmets with red plumes; the Life Guards wore their red tunics, silver cuirasses and helmets with white plumes. Route liners also came from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, in their red tunics and bearskins with white plumes.
Monday’s event saw new Garrison Sergeant Major Andrew “Vern” Stokes of the Coldstream Guards take charge of his first ceremonial occasion. Stokes has taken over the role from WO1 Billy Mott, after the Queen’s Birthday Parade this past Saturday.
Over 7,000 people who are invited cheered as the ceremony made it way down through the Windsor Precinct.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were appointed to the Order in 1947 by Her Majesty’s father, King George VI.
The Order of the Garter is the last remaining honour to given at the discretion of the sovereign without consulting Ministers. The Order, limited to 24 Knights and Royal Knights is awarded to those who have contributed to national life or have served the Sovereign personally.
The patron saint of the Order is St George, the patron saint of the Household Cavalry and of England.
New Knights are proclaimed on St George’s Day on 23 April and carry the letters KG after their name, or LG for female. There are no new Knights for 2015.
photo credit: Crown Copyright 2015, Cpl Max Bryan