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.
This painting shows the Black Prince being invested with the Order of the Garter by King Edward III:
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 Order today
Today, the Order includes The King, 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.
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.
This view from the Altar in St George's Chapel shows the Garter Knights' banners above the stalls:
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.
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 Garter Day procession, where The King and the Knights process in grand velvet robes, glistening insignia and plumed hats, is one of the most traditional ceremonies in the Royal 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 Sovereign formally investing any new Companions with the Order's insignia in the Throne Room of the Castle. The members and officers attend a lunch hosted by the Sovereign, 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.
Ticket holders must be aged 6 years or above.
Applications must be sent between 1 January and 1 March each year to:
Please indicate on your application if anyone in your party is a disabled wheelchair user.