Order of the Garter
Overview

The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St. George as England's patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

, and is presently bestowed on recipients from British and other Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s; after peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

s (and after the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 and George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

), it is the pinnacle of the honours system in the United Kingdom. Membership in the order is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

, and no more than twenty-four members, or Companions; the order also comprises Supernumerary
Supernumerary
A Supernumerary is an additional member of an organization. A supernumerary is also a non-regular member of a staff, a member of the staff or an employee who works in a public office who is not part of the manpower complement...

knights and ladies (e.g., members of the British Royal Family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

 and foreign monarchs).
Encyclopedia

The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St. George as England's patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

, and is presently bestowed on recipients from British and other Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s; after peerage
Peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

s (and after the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 and George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

), it is the pinnacle of the honours system in the United Kingdom. Membership in the order is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

, and no more than twenty-four members, or Companions; the order also comprises Supernumerary
Supernumerary
A Supernumerary is an additional member of an organization. A supernumerary is also a non-regular member of a staff, a member of the staff or an employee who works in a public office who is not part of the manpower complement...

knights and ladies (e.g., members of the British Royal Family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

 and foreign monarchs). Bestowing the honour has been described as one of the Monarch's few remaining truly personal, executive prerogatives.

The order's emblem, depicted on insignia, is a garter
Garter (stockings)
Garters are articles of clothing: narrow bands of fabric fastened about the leg, used to keep up stockings, and sometimes socks. Normally just a few inches in width, they are usually made of leather or heavy cloth, and adorned with small bells and/or ribbons...

 with the motto
Motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

 Honi soit qui mal y pense
Honi soit qui mal y pense
"Honi soit qui mal y pense" is a French phrase meaning: "Shamed be he who thinks evil of it". The phrase is sometimes rendered as "Honi soit quy mal y pense", "Hony soyt qe mal y pense", "Hony soyt ke mal y pense", "Hony soyt qui mal pence" and various other phoneticizations. It is the motto of...

(Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

: "shame upon him who thinks evil upon it", or "evil to him who evil thinks") in gold lettering. Members of the order wear such a garter on ceremonial occasions.

Most British honours encompass the whole United Kingdom, but the top most three each pertain to one constituent nation. The Order of the Garter, pertaining to England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, is senior in age and precedence; The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle
Order of the Thistle
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry associated with Scotland. The current version of the Order was founded in 1687 by King James VII of Scotland who asserted that he was reviving an earlier Order...

 pertains to Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

; and the now-dormant The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick
Order of St. Patrick
The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick is a British order of chivalry associated with Ireland. The Order was created in 1783 by George III. The regular creation of knights of Saint Patrick lasted until 1921, when most of Ireland became independent as the Irish Free State...

 pertains to Ireland. New appointments to the Order of the Garter are always announced on St George's Day
St George's Day
St George's Day is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint. St George's Day is celebrated on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in AD 303...

, 23 April, as Saint George
Saint George
Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

 is the patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of England.

History

King Edward III
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 founded the Order of the Garter as "a society, fellowship and college of knights."
The foundation year is usually presumed to be 1348, however, the Complete Peerage, under "The Founders of the Order of the Garter", states the order was first instituted on 23 April 1344, listing each founding member as knighted in 1344, including Sir Sanchet d’Abrichcourt who died on 20 October 1345.
Other dates from 1344 to 1351 have also been proposed. The King's wardrobe account shows Garter habits first issued in the autumn of 1348; its original statutes required that each member already be a knight (what would now be referred to as a knight bachelor
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

) and some of the initial members were only knighted that year. The concept was followed over the next century or so with other European monarchs founding their own prestigious orders of chivalry. Other early members of the Order can be found at this reference.

The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry in the United Kingdom.

List of Founder Knights

The 26 Founder Knights of the Order of the Garter are as follows, listed in ascending order of Garter-Stall number in St. George's Chapel:
  • Edward, Prince of Wales
    Edward, the Black Prince
    Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England....

     (1330–1376)
  • Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Lancaster
    Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster
    Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 4th Earl of Leicester and Lancaster, KG , also Earl of Derby, was a member of the English nobility in the 14th century, and a prominent English diplomat, politician, and soldier...

     (c. 1310–1361)
  • Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick
    Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick
    Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, KG was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War...

     (d.1369)
  • Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch (d.1377)
  • Ralph de Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford (1301–1372)
  • William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury
    William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury
    Sir William II Montague, alias de Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, 4th Baron Montacute, King of Mann, KG was an English nobleman and commander in the English army during King Edward III's French campaigns in the Hundred Years War.He was born in Donyatt in Somerset, the eldest son of William...

     (1328–1397)
  • Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March (1328–1360)
  • John de Lisle, 2nd Baron Lisle
    John de Lisle, 2nd Baron Lisle
    John de Lisle, 2nd Baron Lisle, KG was a companion of the future King Edward III of England, and one of the founders and eighth Knight of the Garter in 1348....

     (1318–1356)
  • Bartholomew de Burghersh
    Bartholomew de Burghersh, 2nd Baron Burghersh
    Sir Bartholomew de Burghersh, 2nd Baron Burghersh KG was an English nobleman and soldier.Bartholomew first bore arms in the War of the Breton Succession, in the expedition of 1345. He fought as a knight banneret in the division of the Prince of Wales at the Battle of Crécy and was present at the...

     (d.1369)
  • John de Beauchamp (d.1360)
  • John de Mohun, 2nd Baron Mohun
    John de Mohun, 2nd Baron Mohun
    John de Mohun, 2nd Baron Mohun, 9th Baron de Mohun of Dunster, KG was a founder member and the 11th Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter in 1348....

     (c.1320–1376)
  • Hugh de Courtenay (d.1349)
  • Thomas Holland
    Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent
    Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent, 2nd Baron Holand, KG was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War.-Early Life:...

     (d.1360)
  • John de Grey
    John de Grey, 1st Baron Grey de Rotherfield
    John de Grey, 1st Baron Grey de Rotherfield, KG was an English soldier and courtier.John Grey of Rotherfield was one of the founder members of the Most Noble Order of the Garter...

     (c.1300–1359)
  • Richard Fitz-Simon
    Richard Fitz-Simon
    Sir Richard Fitz-Simon KG, Founder member and 15th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348; was born 1295 in Dunmow Essex. He married Ada de Botetourte in 1335...

     (b.1295)
  • Miles Stapleton
    Miles Stapleton of Bedale
    Sir Miles Stapleton of Bedale KG was an English knight, one of the Knights Founder of the Order of the Garter. He was the eldest son of Gilbert de Stapleton, knt. , and the grandson of Miles de Stapleton . His mother was Matilda Sir Miles Stapleton of Bedale (or of Cotherstone) KG (1320?–1364)...

     (d.1364)
  • Thomas Wale (d.1352)
  • Hugh Wrottesley
    Hugh Wrottesley
    Sir Hugh Wrottesley, KG , a Founder member and 18th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348, was the son of sir William Wrottesley and lord of Wrottesley in Staffordshire...

     (d.1381)
  • Nele Loring (d.1386)
  • John Chandos
    John Chandos
    Sir John Chandos, Viscount of Saint-Sauveur in the Cotentin, Constable of Aquitaine, Seneschal of Poitou, KG was a medieval English knight who hailed from Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire. Chandos was a close friend of Edward, the Black Prince and a founding member and 19th Knight of the Order of the...

     (d.1369)
  • James Audley
    James Audley
    Sir James Audley KG was one of the original knights, or founders, of the Order of the Garter. He was the eldest son of Sir James Audley of Stratton Audley in Oxfordshire.-Biography:...

     (d.1369)
  • Otho Holand (d.1359)
  • Henry Earn (?)
  • Sanchet D'Abrichecourt (d.1345):fr:Sanchet D'Abrichecourt
  • Walter Paveley
    Walter Paveley
    Sir Walter Paveley KG was an English knight from Kent, the Knight Founder of the Order of the Garter. He was the son of Sir Walter Paveley , a Kentish landholder, and Maud , daughter and heir of Sir Stephen Burghersh , the elder son of Robert Burghersh Sir Walter Paveley KG (1319–1375) was an...

     (d.1375)

Legendary origins

Various legends account for the origin of the Order. The most popular legend involves the "Countess of Salisbury" (probably either Edward's future daughter-in-law Joan of Kent
Joan of Kent
Joan, Countess of Kent , known to history as The Fair Maid of Kent, was the first English Princess of Wales...

 or her former mother-in-law, Catherine Montacute, Countess of Salisbury
Catherine Montacute, Countess of Salisbury
Catherine Montacute , Countess of Salisbury was an English noblewoman, remembered for her relationship with King Edward III of England and possibly the woman in whose honour the Order of the Garter was originated. She was born Catherine Grandison, daughter of William de Grandison, 1st Baron...

). While she was dancing with or near King Edward at Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham, within the London Borough of Greenwich, South East London, England. It is an unoccupied royal residence and owned by the Crown Estate. In 1995 its management was handed over to English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public...

, her garter
Garter (stockings)
Garters are articles of clothing: narrow bands of fabric fastened about the leg, used to keep up stockings, and sometimes socks. Normally just a few inches in width, they are usually made of leather or heavy cloth, and adorned with small bells and/or ribbons...

 is said to have slipped from her leg. When the surrounding courtier
Courtier
A courtier is a person who is often in attendance at the court of a king or other royal personage. Historically the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

s sniggered, the king picked it up and tied it to his leg, exclaiming, "Honi soit qui mal y pense," ("Shamed be the person who thinks evil of it."), the phrase that has become the motto of the Order. According to another legend, King Richard I
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 was inspired in the 12th century by St George the Martyr
Saint George
Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

 while fighting in the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 to tie garters around the legs of his knights, who subsequently won the battle. King Edward supposedly recalled the event in the 14th century when he founded the Order. Another explanation is that the motto refers to Edward's claim to the French throne, and the Order of the Garter was created to help pursue this claim. The use of the garter as an emblem may have derived from straps used to fasten armour.

Medieval scholars have pointed to a connection between the Order of the Garter and the Middle English poem, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. In the poem, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior who is completely green, from his clothes and hair to his...

". In "Gawain", a girdle, very similar in its erotic undertones to the garter, plays a prominent role. A rough version of the Order's motto also appears in the text. It translates from Old French as "Accursed be a cowardly and covetous heart." While the author of that poem remains disputed, there seems to be a connection between two of the top candidates and the Order of the Garter. Scholar J.P. Oakden has suggested that it is someone related to John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster , KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

, and, more importantly, a member of the Order. Another competing theory is that the work was written for Enguerrand de Coucy, seventh Sire de Coucy. Sire de Coucy was married to King Edward III's daughter, Isabella, and was given admittance to the Order of the Garter on their wedding day."

Ladies Companion of the Garter

Soon after the founding of the Order, women were appointed "Ladies of the Garter," but were not made companions. King Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

 discontinued the practice in 1488; his mother, Margaret Beaufort, was the last Lady of the Garter before Queen Alexandra
Alexandra of Denmark
Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward VII of the United Kingdom...

. Except for female sovereigns, the next Lady of the Garter named was Queen Alexandra
Alexandra of Denmark
Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward VII of the United Kingdom...

, by her husband King Edward VII. King George V
George V
George V was king of the United Kingdom and its dominions from 1910 to 1936.George V or similar terms may also refer to:-People:* George V of Georgia * George V of Imereti * George V of Hanover...

 also made his consort, Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

, a Lady of the Garter and King George VI subsequently did the same for his wife, Queen Elizabeth. Throughout the 20th century, women continued to be associated with the Order, but except for foreign female monarchs, they were not made companions. In 1987, however, it became possible to install "Ladies Companion of the Garter" under a statute of Elizabeth II.

Order

Members

Membership in the Order is strictly limited and includes the monarch, the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

, not more than 24 companion members, and various supernumerary members. The monarch alone can grant membership. He or she is known as the Sovereign of the Garter, and the Prince of Wales is known as a Knight Companion of the Garter.

Male members of the Order are titled "Knights Companion," and female members are called "Ladies Companion." Formerly, the Sovereign filled vacancies upon the nomination of the members. Each member would nominate nine candidates, of whom three had to have the rank of Earl
Earl
An earl is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced with duke...

 or higher, three the rank of Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 or higher, and three the rank of Knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 or higher. The Sovereign would choose as many nominees as were necessary to fill any vacancies in the Order. He or she was not obliged to choose those who received the most nominations. Candidates were last nominated in 1860, and appointments have since been made by the Sovereign acting alone, with no prior nominations. The statutes prescribing the former procedure were not amended, however, until 1953.
From the 18th century, the Sovereign made his or her choices on the advice of Government. However, King George VI believed that the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle had become too linked with political patronage. In 1946, with the agreement of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, membership to these two orders became a personal gift of the Sovereign once again. Thus, the Sovereign personally selects Knights and Ladies Companion of the Garter, and need not act on the advice of His or Her Government.

In addition, the Order includes supernumerary
Supernumerary
A Supernumerary is an additional member of an organization. A supernumerary is also a non-regular member of a staff, a member of the staff or an employee who works in a public office who is not part of the manpower complement...

 members, who do not count towards the limit of 24 companions. Several supernumerary members, known as "Royal Knights and Ladies of the Garter", belong to the royal family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

. These titles were introduced in 1786 by King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 so that his many sons would not count towards the limit on the number of companions. He created the statute of supernumerary members in 1805 so that any descendant of King George II
George II of Great Britain
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

 could be installed as such a member. In 1831, this statute was extended again to include all descendants of King George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

.

With the installation of Emperor Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in 1813, supernumerary membership was extended to foreign monarchs, who are known as "Stranger Knights and Ladies of the Garter". Each such installation originally required the enactment of a statute; however, a 1954 statute authorises the regular admission of Stranger Knights or Ladies without further special enactments. In lesser orders of chivalry, such foreign members would be regarded as having received honorary knighthoods.

Traditionally, reigning European monarchs are admitted to the Order. They are appointed as Strangers notwithstanding that many would be eligible for admission as Royal Knights and Ladies, as descendants of George I: All 20th century Kings of Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 (Haakon VII, Olav V
Olav V of Norway
Olav V was the king of Norway from 1957 until his death. A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Olav was born in the United Kingdom as the son of King Haakon VII of Norway and Queen Maud of Norway...

, Harald V
Harald V of Norway
Harald V is the king of Norway. He succeeded to the throne of Norway upon the death of his father Olav V on 17 January 1991...

) have been made Knights Stranger of the Order. Constantine II of Greece
Constantine II of Greece
|align=right|Constantine II was King of Greece from 1964 until the abolition of the monarchy in 1973, the sixth and last monarch of the Greek Royal Family....

, neither in his short reign or since he was deposed in 1973, has succeeded his father Paul of Greece
Paul of Greece
Paul reigned as King of Greece from 1947 to 1964.-Family and early life:Paul was born in Athens, the third son of King Constantine I of Greece and his wife, Princess Sophia of Prussia. He was trained as a naval officer....

 as a member of the Order. Similarly, Albert II of Belgium
Albert II of Belgium
Albert II is the current reigning King of the Belgians, a constitutional monarch. He is a member of the royal house "of Belgium"; formerly this house was named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

, although acceding to the throne in 1993, is the only Belgian monarch to date not to have been admitted to the Order. For a time, both Juliana, Queen of the Netherlands and her successor, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands were concurrently members of the Order as Stranger Ladies of the Garter.

The first non-Christian ruler to be admitted to the Order was Abdülmecid I
Abdülmecid I
Sultan Abdülmecid I, Abdul Mejid I, Abd-ul-Mejid I or Abd Al-Majid I Ghazi was the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and succeeded his father Mahmud II on July 2, 1839. His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories...

, Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, in 1856 as a Stranger Knight.

The first, and to date only, member of the Order from South America, was Emperor Pedro II of Brazil
Pedro II of Brazil
Dom Pedro II , nicknamed "the Magnanimous", was the second and last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of...

, created a Stranger Knight in 1871. He was a member of the House of Braganza
House of Braganza
The Most Serene House of Braganza , an important Portuguese noble family, ruled the Kingdom of Portugal and its colonial Empire, from 1640 to 1910...

 which also ruled in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

.

The first member of the Order admitted from Asia was Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, monarch of Persia, created a Stranger Knight in 1873. His immediate successor was also admitted to the Order in 1903, to be followed by the Meiji Emperor of Japan in 1906.

Currently, Akihito
Akihito
is the current , the 125th emperor of his line according to Japan's traditional order of succession. He acceded to the throne in 1989.-Name:In Japan, the emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" which may be shortened to . In...

 is the only non-European monarch and likely the only non-Christian who is a member of the Order. He is the fourth (consecutive) Emperor of Japan
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

 to be a Stranger Knight.

The first, and to date only, member of the Order from Africa was Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...

, created a Stranger Knight in 1954.

The first knight from Australasia
Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

 or Oceania was Richard Gardiner Casey, Baron Casey, an Australian politician, diplomat and the 16th Governor-General of Australia
Governor-General of Australia
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the representative in Australia at federal/national level of the Australian monarch . He or she exercises the supreme executive power of the Commonwealth...

, created a Knight Companion in 1969. Subsequently, two more Australians, Sir Paul Hasluck and Sir Ninian Stephen were appointed. Three New Zealanders
New Zealanders
New Zealanders, colloquially known as Kiwis, are citizens of New Zealand. New Zealand is a multiethnic society, and home to people of many different national origins...

 have been appointed; Charles Elworthy, Baron Elworthy
Charles Elworthy, Baron Elworthy
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Samuel Charles Elworthy, Baron Elworthy KG, GCB, CBE, DSO, LVO, DFC, AFC was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force...

, Sir Keith Holyoake and Sir Edmund Hillary. Sir Edmund's appointment was unusual for a Knight Companion from a Commonwealth Realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

 in that it did not result from political or military service.

There have been no appointments to date from North America.

The Sovereign may "degrade" members who have committed serious crimes, such as treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, fleeing the battlefield or those who have taken up arms against the Sovereign.

During the First World War, two Royal Knights and six Stranger Knights, all monarchs or princes of enemy nations and including Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Emperor Franz Joseph I
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

 of Austria, were struck off the roll of the Order or had their appointments annulled in 1915.

The banner of Emperor Hirohito
Hirohito
, posthumously in Japan officially called Emperor Shōwa or , was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito, in Japan he is now referred to...

 of Japan was removed from St. George's chapel when Japan entered World War II in 1941, but that banner and the Japanese monarch's knighthood were restored by Elizabeth II in 1971, at which time he made a State visit
State visit
A state visit is a formal visit by a foreign head of state to another nation, at the invitation of that nation's head of state. State visits are the highest form of diplomatic contact between two nations, and are marked by ceremonial pomp and diplomatic protocol. In parliamentary democracies, heads...

 to the United Kingdom. The Emperor was particularly pleased by the restoration of his banner as a Knight of the Garter, Perhaps curiously, Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
Victor Emmanuel III was a member of the House of Savoy and King of Italy . In addition, he claimed the crowns of Ethiopia and Albania and claimed the titles Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania , which were unrecognised by the Great Powers...

 remained a Stranger Knight after Italy entered World War II against the United Kingdom and her Allies, until his death in exile in 1947.

From the late 15th century, there was a formal ceremony of degradation, in which Garter King of Arms, accompanied by the rest of the heralds, proceeded to St George's Chapel. While the Garter King of Arms read out aloud the Instrument of Degradation, a herald climbed up a ladder and removed the former knight's banner, crest, helm and sword, throwing them down into the quire. Then the rest of the heralds kicked them down the length of the chapel, out of the doors, and into the castle ditch. The last such formal degradation was that of the The Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde KG KT was an Irish statesman and soldier. He was the third of the Kilcash branch of the family to inherit the earldom of Ormonde...

 in 1716.

Descendants of Knights of the Garter may join The Society of the Friends of St George's and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter
The Society of the Friends of St George's and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter
The Society of the Friends of St George's and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter is a constituent group of the Foundation of the College of St George, Windsor Castle which is a national charity in England...

.

Officers

The Order has six officers: the Prelate, the Chancellor, the Register, the Garter Principal King of Arms
Garter Principal King of Arms
The Garter Principal King of Arms is the senior King of Arms, and the senior Officer of Arms of the College of Arms. He is therefore the most powerful herald within the jurisdiction of the College – primarily England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and so arguably the most powerful in the world...

, the Usher, and the Secretary. The offices of Prelate, Register and Usher were created on the order's establishment; those of Garter Principal King of Arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 and Chancellor, in the 15th century; and that of Secretary, in the 20th century.

The office of Prelate
Prelate
A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means "carry before", "be set above or over" or "prefer"; hence, a prelate is one set over others.-Related...

 is held by the Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

, traditionally one of the senior bishops of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

. The office of Chancellor is now held by one of the companions of the order. For most of its existence, the Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop of Salisbury
The Bishop of Salisbury is the ordinary of the Church of England's Diocese of Salisbury in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers much of the counties of Wiltshire and Dorset...

 has held the office, although laymen held it from 1553 to 1671. In 1837, after boundary changes made Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 fall in the diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 of Oxford, the Chancellorship was transferred to the Bishop of Oxford
Bishop of Oxford
The Bishop of Oxford is the diocesan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury; his seat is at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford...

. A century later, the Bishop of Salisbury challenged this transfer, on the grounds that the Chancellorship had been attached to his office regardless of the diocese in which the chapel of the order lay; and that, in any event, St George's Chapel, as a Royal Peculiar
Royal Peculiar
A Royal Peculiar is a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch, rather than under a bishop. The concept dates from Anglo-Saxon times, when a church could ally itself with the monarch and therefore not be subject to the bishop of the area...

, was not under diocesan jurisdiction. The office of Chancellor was removed from the Bishop of Oxford (the outgoing bishop, Kenneth Kirk, had been outspoken in the abdication crisis of Edward VIII
Edward VIII abdication crisis
In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire was caused by King-Emperor Edward VIII's proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite....

), and has since been held by one of the Knights Companion. Since 1937, the following members have held the post of Chancellor:
  • The Duke of Portland
    William Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland
    William John Arthur Charles James Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland KG, GCVO, PC, TD, DL , known as William Cavendish-Bentinck until 1879, was a British landowner, courtier and Conservative politician...

     (1937–1943)
  • The Earl of Halifax
    E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax
    Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, , known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was one of the most senior British Conservative politicians of the 1930s, during which he held several senior ministerial posts, most notably as...

     (1943–1959)
  • The Marquess of Salisbury
    Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
    Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, KG, PC , known as Viscount Cranborne from 1903 to 1947, was a British Conservative politician.-Background:...

     (1960–1972)
  • The Viscount Cobham
    Charles Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham
    Charles John Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham, KG, GCMG, GCVO, TD, PC was the ninth Governor-General of New Zealand and an English cricketer.-Early life and family:...

     (1972–1977)
  • The Marquess of Abergavenny
    John Nevill, 5th Marquess of Abergavenny
    Lt.-Col. John Henry Guy Nevill, 5th Marquess of Abergavenny, KG, OBE was a British peer, the son of the 4th Marquess of Abergavenny.-Biography:Lord Abergavenny was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge....

     (1977–1994)
  • The Lord Carrington
    Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington
    Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, is a British Conservative politician. He served as British Foreign Secretary between 1979 and 1982 and as the sixth Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. He is the last surviving member of the Cabinets of both Harold Macmillan and Sir...

     (since 1994)


The office of Register has been held by the Dean of Windsor since 1558. The Garter Principal King of Arms
Garter Principal King of Arms
The Garter Principal King of Arms is the senior King of Arms, and the senior Officer of Arms of the College of Arms. He is therefore the most powerful herald within the jurisdiction of the College – primarily England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and so arguably the most powerful in the world...

 is ex officio the senior officer of the College of Arms
College of Arms
The College of Arms, or Heralds’ College, is an office regulating heraldry and granting new armorial bearings for England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 (the heraldic
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 authority of England), and is usually appointed from among the other officers of arms
Officer of arms
An officer of arms is a person appointed by a sovereign or state with authority to perform one or more of the following functions:*to control and initiate armorial matters*to arrange and participate in ceremonies of state...

 at the College. As the title suggests, Garter Principal King of Arms has specific duties as the Order's officer of arms, attending to the companions' crests and banners of arms, which are exhibited in the chapel. The Secretary, who acts as deputy to Garter in the ceremonial aspects of the Order, has since 1952 also been selected from the other officers of the College of Arms. The office of Usher is held by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod
Black Rod
The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, generally shortened to just Black Rod, is an official in the parliaments of several Commonwealth countries. The position originates in the House of Lords of the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

, who is also the Serjeant-at-Arms
Serjeant-at-Arms
A Sergeant-at-Arms is an officer appointed by a deliberative body, usually a legislature, to keep order during its meetings. The word sergeant is derived from the Latin serviens, which means "servant"....

 of the United Kingdom House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 (although his functions are more often performed there by his deputy, the Yeoman Usher).

Military Knights of Windsor

At the founding of the Order of the Garter, 26 "poor knights" were appointed and attached to the Order and its chapel. This number was not always maintained, and by the 17th century, there were only thirteen such knights. King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 increased the number to eighteen after his coronation in 1660. After the knights objected to being termed "poor", King William IV
William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

 redesignated them in the 19th century as the Military Knights of Windsor
Military Knights of Windsor
The Military Knights of Windsor are retired military officers who receive a pension and accommodation at Windsor Castle, and who provide support for the Order of the Garter and for the services of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle...

.

The poor knights were impoverished military veterans, required to pray daily for the Knights Companion. In return, they received a salary and lodging in Windsor Castle. The knights are no longer necessarily poor, but are still military pensioners. They participate in the Order's processions, escorting the members, and in the chapel services. However, they are not considered knights or members of the Order.

The poor knights originally wore red mantles, each of which bore St George's Cross, but did not depict the Garter. Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 replaced the mantles in the 16th and 17th centuries with blue and purple gowns, but the red mantles returned in the 17th century under King Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

. When the knights were renamed, the mantles were abandoned. The military knights now wear the old military uniform of an "army officer on the unattached list": black trousers with red stripe, a red double-breasted
Double-breasted
In clothing, the term double-breasted refers to a coat or jacket with wide, overlapping front flaps and two parallel columns of buttons or snaps; by contrast, a single-breasted coat has a narrow overlap and only one column of buttons. In most modern double-breasted coats, one column of buttons is...

 swallow-tailed coat
Tailcoat
A tailcoat is a coat with the front of the skirt cut away, so as to leave only the rear section of the skirt, known as the tails. The historical reason coats were cut this way was to make it easier for the wearer to ride a horse, but over the years tailcoats of varying types have evolved into forms...

, gold epaulets and brushes, a cocked hat with a plume
Hackle
The hackle is a clipped feather plume that is attached to a military headdress.In the British Army and the armies of some Commonwealth countries the hackle is worn by some infantry regiments, especially those designated as fusilier regiments and those with Scottish and Northern Irish origins. The...

, and a sword on a white sash.

Members

For the Order's ceremonial occasions, such as the annual Garter Day, the members wear elaborate vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

s and accoutrements (accessories), which include:
  • The mantle is a vestment or robe worn by members since the 15th century. Once made of wool, by the 16th century it was made of velvet
    Velvet
    Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed,with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel.The word 'velvety' is used as an adjective to mean -"smooth like velvet".-Composition:...

    . The mantle was originally purple, but varied during the 17th and 18th centuries between celestial blue, pale blue, royal blue, dark blue, violet, and ultramarine
    Ultramarine
    Ultramarine is a blue pigment consisting primarily of a double silicate of aluminium and sodium with some sulfides or sulfates, and occurring in nature as a proximate component of lapis lazuli...

    . Mantles are now dark blue and lined with white taffeta
    Taffeta
    Taffeta is a crisp, smooth plain woven fabric made from silk or synthetic fibers. The word is Persian in origin, and means "twisted woven." It is considered to be a "high end" fabric, suitable for use in ball gowns, wedding dresses, and in interiors for curtains or wallcovering. There are two...

    . The mantles of the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and Royal Knights and Ladies end in trains. The heraldic shield of St. George's Cross encircled by the Garter is sewn onto the left shoulder of the mantle, but the Sovereign's mantle instead has the star of the Order. Attached to the mantle over the right shoulder are a dark red velvet hood and surcoat
    Surcoat
    A surcoat was an outer garment commonly worn in the Middle Ages by both men and women. It can either refer to a coat worn over other garments or the outer garment of a person...

    , which have lost all function over time and appear to the modern observer simply as a splash of colour.
  • The hat is a Tudor bonnet
    Tudor bonnet
    A Tudor bonnet is a traditional soft round cap, with a tassel hanging from a cord encircling the puggaree of the hat...

     of black velvet with a plume of white ostrich and black heron feathers.
  • The collar
    Livery collar
    A livery collar or chain of office is a collar or heavy chain, usually of gold, worn as insignia of office or a mark of fealty or other association in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards....

    is an accessory worn around the neck, over the mantle and secured with white ribbons tied in bows on the shoulders. Like the mantle, it was introduced in the 15th and 16th centuries. Made of pure gold, it weighs 30 troy ounce
    Troy ounce
    The troy ounce is a unit of imperial measure. In the present day it is most commonly used to gauge the weight of precious metals. One troy ounce is nowadays defined as exactly 0.0311034768 kg = 31.1034768 g. There are approximately 32.1507466 troy oz in 1 kg...

    s (0.933 kg). The collar is composed of gold knots alternating with enamelled medallions showing a rose encircled by the Garter. During King Henry VII
    Henry VII of England
    Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

    's reign, each garter surrounded two roses—one red and one white—but he changed the design such that each garter encircled only one red rose.
  • The George
    Saint George
    Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

    (Great George), which is worn suspended from the collar, is a colourfully enamelled (sometimes jewelled) three-dimensional figure of St. George the Martyr on horseback slaying a dragon.
  • The Garter is worn on ceremonial occasions around the left calf by knights and around the left arm by ladies, and is depicted on several insignia. The Garter is a buckled dark-blue (originally light-blue) velvet strap, and bears the motto in gold letters. The garters of Stranger Knights and Ladies were once set with several jewels.


On other occasions when decorations are worn, the members wear simpler insignia:

  • The collar is worn on designated collar day
    Collar Day
    Collar days are designated days on which the collar forming part of the insignia of certain members of orders of knighthood may be worn. Collars are special large and elaborate metal chains worn over the shoulders, hanging equally in front and back, often tied with a bow at the shoulders, with a...

    s over military uniform or evening wear by members attending formal events. The collar is fastened to the shoulders with silk ribbons. Since the collar signifies the Order of the Garter, members can then wear the riband of any other order to which they belong.
  • The star, which is worn pinned to the left breast, was introduced in the 17th century by King Charles I
    Charles I of England
    Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

     and is a colourfully enamelled depiction of the heraldic shield of St. George's Cross, encircled by the Garter, which is itself encircled by an eight-point silver badge. Each point is depicted as a cluster of rays, with the four points of the cardinal directions longer than the intermediate ones. The stars of Stranger Knights and Ladies were once set with several jewels. Since the Order of the Garter is the senior order of the United Kingdom, a member will wear its star above the others (up to three) that he or she holds.
  • The riband is a four inch (10.16 cm)-wide sash
    Sash
    A sash is a cloth belt used to hold a robe together, and is usually tied about the waist. The Japanese equivalent of a sash, obi, serves to hold a kimono or yukata together. Decorative sashes may pass from the shoulder to the hip rather than around the waist...

     worn over the left shoulder, or pinned beneath it, to the right hip, and was introduced in the 17th century by King Charles I
    Charles I of England
    Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

    . The riband's colour has varied over the years: it was originally light blue, but was a dark shade under the Hanoverian monarchs. In 1950, the colour was fixed as "kingfisher blue". A member will wear only one riband, even if he or she belongs to several orders.
  • The badge is worn suspended from a small gold link from the riband at the right hip, and is sometimes known as "the Lesser George
    Saint George
    Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

    ". Like the Great George, the badge shows St. George the Martyr on horseback slaying a dragon, but it is flatter and gold. In the 15th century, the badge was worn attached to a ribbon around the neck. This was not convenient when riding a horse, so the custom of wearing it with a riband under the right arm developed.


On the death of a member, the badge and star are returned personally to the Sovereign by the former member's nearest male relative, and the other insignia to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood
Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood
The Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood is a small office within the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom responsible for the administration of Orders of Chivalry and some aspects of honours in general...

.

Officers

For ceremonial occasions of the Order, the officers wear the following garments and accessories:
  • The mantles for the prelate and chancellor are dark blue like those of the members (as a member, the chancellor wears a member's mantle), but the mantles for the other officers are dark red. All mantles are embroidered with a heraldic shield of St George's Cross. For Garter ceremonies, Garter Principal King of Arms
    Garter Principal King of Arms
    The Garter Principal King of Arms is the senior King of Arms, and the senior Officer of Arms of the College of Arms. He is therefore the most powerful herald within the jurisdiction of the College – primarily England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and so arguably the most powerful in the world...

     wears this red mantle rather than the tabard
    Tabard
    A tabard is a short coat, either sleeveless, or with short sleeves or shoulder pieces, which was a common item of men's clothing in the Middle Ages, usually for outdoors. It might be belted, or not...

     of the royal arms
    Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
    The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

     worn for other State ceremonial occasions.
  • Officers wear badges of office suspended from a chain worn around the neck. The badge for the prelate shows the Lesser George encircled by the Garter, which is surmounted by a bishop's mitre
    Mitre
    The mitre , also spelled miter, is a type of headwear now known as the traditional, ceremonial head-dress of bishops and certain abbots in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as in the Anglican Communion, some Lutheran churches, and also bishops and certain other clergy in the Eastern Orthodox...

    . The badge for the chancellor is a rose encircled by the Garter. The badge for the register is two crossed quills over a book encircled by the Garter surmounted by a crown. The badge for Garter Principal King of Arms is the royal arms impaled with St George's Cross encircled by the Garter and surmounted by a crown. The badge for the usher is a knot (like those on the collars of the companions of the order) encircled by the Garter and surmounted by a crown. The badge for the secretary shows two crossed quills in front of a rose and encircled by the Garter surmounted by a crown.


The chancellor carries a purse, which is embroidered with the royal arms impaled by the Cross of St. George. The purse contains the seal of the Order. Garter Principal King of Arms carries his baton of office. The usher carries his staff of office, the Black Rod
Black Rod
The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, generally shortened to just Black Rod, is an official in the parliaments of several Commonwealth countries. The position originates in the House of Lords of the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

.

Precedence and privileges

Members are assigned positions in the order of precedence
United Kingdom order of precedence
The Order of precedence in the United Kingdom is the sequential hierarchy for nobility, clergy and holders of the various Orders of Chivalry in the constituent countries of the United Kingdom:* England and Wales* Scotland* Northern Ireland...

, coming before all others of knightly rank, and above baronet
Baronet
A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess , is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown...

s. The wives, sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Companion are also assigned precedence. Relatives of Ladies Companion are not, however, assigned any special positions. (Generally, individuals can derive precedence from their fathers or husbands, but not from their mothers or wives.) The Chancellor is also assigned precedence, but except for the period between 1553 and 1671 when the office was held by a layman who was not necessarily a member of the Order, this precedence has been purely theoretical. As a member of the Order, the Chancellor has a higher precedence than that attached to the office, and when the office was filled by a diocesan bishop of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, the holder again had a higher precedence by virtue of that office than any that the chancellorship could bestow.

Knights Companion prefix "Sir" and Ladies Companion prefix "Lady" to their forenames. Wives of Knights Companion may prefix "Lady" to their surnames, but no corresponding privilege exists for husbands of Ladies Companion. Such forms are not used by princes and peers, except when peers' names are written out in their fullest forms.

Knights and Ladies Companion use the post-nominal letters "KG" and "LG" respectively. When an individual is entitled to use multiple post-nominal letters, those of the Order of the Garter appear before all others except "Bt" (Baronet
Baronet
A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess , is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown...

), "VC" (Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

) and "GC" (George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

).

The members may encircle their arms with the Garter, and, if they wish, with a depiction of the collar as well. However, the Garter is normally used alone; the more elaborate version is seldom seen. Stranger Knights and Ladies do not embellish the arms they use in their countries with English decorations.

Knights and Ladies Companion are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters, a privilege granted to few other private individuals. While some families claim supporters by ancient use, and others have been granted them as a special reward, only peers, Knights and Ladies Companion of the Garter, Knights and Ladies of the Thistle, and certain other knights and ladies are automatically entitled to them.

Garter service at St George's Chapel

The Order of the Garter once held services at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

, but they became rare in the 18th century. The Garter services, discontinued in 1805, were revived by King George VI in 1948 and have become an annual event. Each June, on the Monday of Royal Ascot week, the members of the Order, wearing their ceremonial vestments and insignia
Insignia
Insignia or insigne pl -nia or -nias : a symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction...

, meet in the state apartments in the Upper Ward of Windsor Castle. They process on foot, led by the Military Knights of Windsor
Military Knights of Windsor
The Military Knights of Windsor are retired military officers who receive a pension and accommodation at Windsor Castle, and who provide support for the Order of the Garter and for the services of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle...

, through the castle to St George's Chapel for the service. If there are any new knights, they are installed on this occasion. After the service, the members return to the Upper Ward by carriage
Carriage
A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn; litters and sedan chairs are excluded, since they are wheelless vehicles. The carriage is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light,...

.

See also


External links

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