Welcome to the Order of the Garter! Well, here, at least – the ceremony was cancelled last year and so it’s the first time I’ve had the chance to cover it. This very prestigious order has been around since the reign of Edward III when the king started it in 1348. To give you a sense of how few and far between the appointments are, the Duke of Cambridge was the 1,000th person bestowed the honor when he was invested in 2008.
Today, the Queen serves as the Sovereign of the Order with 24 knights. All four of her children have joined, as has William, of course, and her first cousins, the Dukes of Kent and Gloucester. The Duke of Sussex has not yet been appointed, but with the exception of the Prince of Wales, the Queen’s younger children weren’t until they were middle-aged. As such, it’s entirely possible that his day won’t come until after his father ascends the throne.
Garter Day is usually an annual event held at Windsor in which the Queen and the knights process in their full regalia. Per the Royal Family’s website:
“The day begins with The Queen formally investing any new Companions with the Order’s insignia in the Throne Room of the Castle. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh entertain the members and officers at a lunch, and then all process on foot to a service in St. George’s Chapel. There is a short service where any new Companions are installed. The Sovereign and other members of the Order then return to the Upper Ward of the castle in carriages and cars.”
Nowadays, of course, Prince Philip is retired and thus didn’t join the Queen. In terms of spouses, though, we did see the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex today. In previous years, the Duchess of Cambridge has also attended, but her maternity made it almost certain she would sit this year out.
Fun fact: the first time Kate attended this ceremony was when William was invested in 2008. Back then she was still only at girlfriend status and it was seen as massively significant that she was invited. There are some pretty funny photos and videos from that day in which she and Harry are giggling after they catch sight of William in his getup.
After last year’s cancellation, it was good to see the Queen out and about and smiling this afternoon. The official reasoning was the Parliamentary schedule last summer, but rumors were also out there that it, combined with her speech and Trooping the Colour was a lot of activity in the summer heat. Glad that’s behind us for the time being.
Anywho, I’ve no earthly idea who Camilla and Sophie were wearing, so we’re skipping the fashion today and instead focusing on the pomp and history of the ceremony itself. It’s quintessentially British and between it, Ascot and Wimbledon next month, we’re in for a very festive few weeks 🙂 In the meantime, here’s video from today: