Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Order of the Garter

The Order of the Garter procession in 1948 when Elizabeth and Philip installed as Lady and Knight Companion 

Tradition has its way and unfolds as it will. The annual Order of the Garter service took place in Windsor on June 13th, just hours after the Queen had overseen the final national celebrations for her official 90th birthday. Elizabeth II was there to lead this event which traces its origins back to the 14th century. Britain's longest reigning monarch, its oldest ever ruler, took no time to rest before ensuring that the traditions of her kingdom were upheld.

 It was wet, it was grey, it was pretty much like the past three days when the Queen has been out and about marking her big birthday. And just like then, there were huge crowds to see her and her family as they took part in this ancient ceremony.
As well as the Queen and the Prince of Wales who are members ex officio, there are royal Knight and Ladies Companion including the Duke of Cambridge and the Earl of Wessex who take part in the ceremony.  The Order is made up of 24 Knights and Ladies - their membership is decided by the Queen. There are also Stranger Knights and Ladies Companion - royalty from other countries. None of them attended this year's ceremony.
The events were watched by the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex who always get a little awning to stand under and so were protected from this year's rain.
The ceremony traces its roots back to the reign of Edward III and most historians agree on a formal start of 1348. The garter itself has a very romantic legend attached to it - Edward III is said to have picked up the garter of the Countess of Salisbury after it fell from her leg while she danced at a ball. The King told laughing onlookers 'Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense' - Shame on him who thinks evil of it. That is the motto of the Order of the Garter which continues today with all its pageantry. A tradition that Edward's successor and descendant continues as part of her own historic tale in their shared royal story.
Photo credit: The Royal Family Twitter.

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