What is the Order of the Garter?

THE Order of the Garter is the oldest national order of knighthood and Britain’s most senior order of chivalry.

But what exactly is it? Here’s everything you need to know.


Princes William and Charles pictured taking part in Garter Day back in 2008Credit: Getty

What is the Order of the Garter?

The Order was founded in 1348 by King Edward III.

The monarch was inspired by the tales of King Arthur and the chivalry showed by the Knights of the Round table, and sought to establish his own group of knights.

Seven centuries later, it is both the oldest and the most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain, according to the Royal Family’s official website.

Its Latin motto is: “Honi soit qui mal y pense”, which in English means “Shame on him who thinks this evil”.

Who are members of the Order of the Garter?

The order used to be limited to the aristocracy.

But in modern times, members are picked from various backgrounds.

The Order includes:

  • King Charles himself, who is Sovereign of the Garter
  • Several Royal Family members
  • 24 knights chosen in recognition of their achievements

Knights are chosen personally by The King.

A Garter Day is held annually in June, when traditionally the monarch and the Knights take part in a procession, wearing velvet robes and plumed hats.

The procession takes place at Windsor Castle, featuring a marching band and the Officers of the Order.

At the start of the day, the Queen formally invests any new “Companions” in the Castle’s throne room.

The monarch then traditionally entertains officers and members at a lunch.

Afterwards, they all process to a short service which is held in St George’s Chapel.

After any new Companions are installed, the Order return to the Castle’s Upper Ward in cars and carriages.

What do you have to do to join?

The Order can’t be applied for, those wishing to become a Knight or Lady have to be invited.

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The invitation honours people who have held public office, contributed to national life in a particular way, or who have served the Monarch personally.

Former Prime Ministers Sir Winston Churchill, Sir John Major and Sir Tony Blair have received Britain’s highest honour of chivalry.

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