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Who are the knights and ladies of the Order of the Garter?

The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded in 1348 during the reign of King Edward III. It is the highest order of chivalry in the United Kingdom and membership is limited to 24 Knights and Ladies Companion.

The Sovereign has the sole discretion to fill memberships to the Order of the Garter, and each June, the Order celebrates Garter Day at Windsor Castle.

Garter Day sees members process in full regalia for a service at St. George’s Chapel; and any new members are invested with their Order. At most, there can be 24 members of the Order of the Garter at any given time. There are currently five vacancies that can only be filled by the Sovereign.

King Charles III’s first appointments to the Order of the Garter came earlier this year, with the appointments of the Baroness Ashton of Upholland and the Lord Patten of Barnes.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland used to be the Leader of the House of Lords and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; while Lord Patten of Barnes was the last Governor of Hong Kong, a Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and a Chairman of the BBC Trust.

The late Queen Elizabeth II’s final appointments to the Order of the Garter came in 2022. She appointed former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Baroness Amos to the Order.

Baroness Amos was a former Leader of the House of Lords, a Secretary of State for International Development, and the United Nations Under-Secrtary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Sir John Major and The Right Honourable Tony Blair are the only former Prime Ministers serving as Knights of the Order of the Garter. Major was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005.

The longest-serving Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter is currently the Duke of Abercorn, who was appointed in 1999. He served as a Lord Steward and Lord-Lieutenant of Tyrone during the late Queen’s reign.

The longest-serving Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter is currently Baroness Manningham-Buller, who was appointed in 2014. She once served as the Director General of the Security Service.

Former government members make up a large portion of Garter members, including The Lord Butler of Brockwell, who’d been both a Cabinet Secretary and the Head of the Home Civil Service; The Lord Luce, who’d been a Lord Chamberlain and Governor of Gibraltar; The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, who’d been a Lord Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court; and The Marquess of Salisbury, who’d been the Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and a Leader of the House of Lords.

From the military, the Right Honourable The Lord Stirrup, the Former Chief of the Defence Staff was appointed in 2013. The former Governor of the Bank of England, the Lord King of Lothbury, was appointed in 2014.

Several Lord-Lieutenants—who’s duty is to represent the Sovereign in each area of the United Kingdom—are Knights and Ladies Companion of the Order of the Garter.

Lord Morris of Aberavon, who’d been the Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed (and Attorney General for England and Wales; and Secretary of State for Wales), was appointed in 2003.

The former Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Sir Thomas Dunne, was appointed in 2008. The Lord Shuttleworth, Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, was appointed in 2016; Lady Mary Fagan, Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, was appointed in 2018; Viscount Brookeborough, a former Lord-Lieutenant of Fermanagh (and Lord in Waiting to King Charles III), was appointed in 2018; and Lady Mary Peters, a Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast (and Olympic gold medallist), was appointed in 2019.

In addition to the Knights and Ladies Companion, there are supernumerary members of the Order of the Garter, which are usually members of the British Royal Family and sovereigns of European and overseas monarchies as well.

Garter Day in 2023 falls on Monday 19 June.

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About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.