King Charles III has appointed two new members of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry.
His Majesty has made Baroness Ashton of Upholland a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Lord Patten of Barnes is a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
Appointment to the Order is in the gift of The King who is Sovereign of the Garter. It is awarded in recognition of contribution to national life and ordinary members are usually appointed on St. George’s Day, 23 April.
There are only ever 24 ordinary members of the Order at any one time. There are also supernumerary knights and ladies who are members of the Royal Family and foreign monarchs.
Catherine Ashton served as a government minister in the Labour administration of Tony Blair. She was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Education and the Ministry of Justice between 1999 and 2007 and later became Leader of the House of Lords. She was the European Union’s first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Chris Patten was the last Governor of Hong Kong and oversaw its return to China in 1997. He was a member of several Conservative governments and served as Secretary of State for the Environment and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He led the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland. Chris Patten, who has also been Tory Party chair, was European Commissioner for External Relations from 1999 to 2004 and chaired the BBC Trust between 2011 and 2014.
The Order of the Garter was established in 1348 by King Edward III. Legend has it that it takes its name from a garter that fell from a countess as she was dancing. When Edward III retrieved it for her, he talked down those who mocked it by saying ‘Honi Soit qui mal y pense” which translates as ”shame on him who thinks evil of it”. That phrase remains the motto of the Order of the Garter today.
The new knight and lady companion will join other members of the Order at the annual ceremony at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor in June.