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FeaturesHistoryQueen Camilla

What is the Order of the Thistle?

This week, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles had appointed Queen Camilla to the Order of Thistle. The Order is the highest chivalric order in Scotland.

King James VII founded the first confirmed iteration of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle in 1687. He claimed that he was reviving an earlier order; it may have been an order under King James III (who reigned from 1460 to 1488), but this has not been conclusively confirmed. 

King James founded the Order shortly before he was forced to flee during the Glorious Revolution in 1688; it was revived by Queen Anne in 1704 and has existed since. 

The Order of the Thistle is granted to an individual based on public service to the country or someone who has held public office. There can be a maximum of sixteen full members at any one time. In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II began granting full admission to women as full members. 

The thistle is the order’s symbol, and members wear green robes with a white lining, a black velvet hat, and a gold collar depicting thistles (as well as sprigs of rue). 

The Chapel of the Order of the Thistle is in St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. This chapel was not completed until 1911 under King George V’s reign after his father, King Edward VII, commissioned it. 

Queen Camilla can wear the mantle and insignia at appropriate events while she is in Scotland now.

The Queen was made an Extra Lady of the Order of the Thistle; The Princess Royal was made an Extra Lady of the Order of the Thistle in 2000, and The Duke of Rothesay (Prince William) was made an Extra Knight in 2012. They are supernumerary members and are not included in the count of 16 members. 

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