In medieval times, King Edward III was so inspired by tales of King Arthur and the chivalry of the Knights of the Round Table that he set up his own group of honourable knights, called the Order of the Garter. Nearly 700 years later, the Order is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain. The Knights, now both male and female, used to be limited to aristocracy, but today they are chosen from a variety of backgrounds, in recognition for their public service
The patron saint of the Order is St George (patron saint of soldiers and also of England) and if there are vacancies in the Order, appointments are announced on St George's Day (23 April). The spiritual home of the Order is St George's Chapel, Windsor. Every knight is required to display a banner of his arms in the Chapel, together with a helmet, crest and sword and an enamelled stallplate.
These 'achievements' are taken down on the knight's death and the insignia are returned to the Sovereign. The stallplates remain as a memorial and these now form one of the finest collections of heraldry in the world.
Today, the Order includes the Queen, who is Sovereign of the Garter, several senior Members of the Royal Family, and twenty-four knights chosen in recognition of their work. Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the Sovereign to honour those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally. These have included Marshal of the RAF, Lord Stirrup, and former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Sir Winston Churchill.
Motto: Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks this evil)
Chapel: St. George's Chapel, Windsor
Ranks: Knight or Lady
Post-nominals: KG or LG
The annual iconic Garter Day procession, where The Queen and the Knights process in grand velvet robes, glistening insignia and plumed hats, is one of the most traditional ceremonies in the Queen's calendar.
Every June, a grand procession of the knights takes place at Windsor Castle, accompanied by a marching band and Officers of the Order, all in grand ceremonial dress.
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.
Tickets for the Procession
A limited number of tickets are available for members of the public to watch the procession to St. George's Chapel from inside the precincts of Windsor Castle. Applicants can request up to four tickets each.
Applications must be sent between 1 January and 1 March each year to:
garterday.info[at]royal.gsx.gov.uk. Please indicate on your application if anyone in your party is a disabled wheelchair user.