What is the Order of the Garter and who are the members?

King Charles and Prince William
King Charles and Prince William are members of the Order of the Garter(Picture: Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)

It seems like we’ve seen a lot of the royals the past couple of years – what with a huge state funeral for the late Queen Elizabeth, the Coronation of King Charles and, most recently. Trooping the Colour.

With all these spectacles, we’ve also witnessed a lot of pomp and ceremony – a classic element of the British Royal Family.

For those who love the tradition and the history, there’s going to be another gathering very soon, when the Order of the Garter come together for their annual ceremony – although one member won’t be present today after Prince Andrew was reportedly banned again, as he was last year.

What’s it all about and who’s taking part? We’ve got all you need to know…

What’s the Order of the Garter?

The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain.

Per the Royal Family’s website, it was set up in medieval times (1348) by King Edward III who ‘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.’

Tony Blair, Garter Day 2022
A mixture of royals and non-royals are appointed, and get to wear the fetching feather hats (Picture:Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)

There are 24 spaces for Knights and Ladies Companion in the Order and on Garter Day new appointments are formally invested in the Garter Throne Room by the monarch.

The Knights, now both male and female, used to be strictly reserved for the aristocracy, but today are chosen from a variety of backgrounds, in recognition for the work they do and their public service.

There are also royal members both in the UK and abroad that are part of the Order on an honorary basis.

Who is in the Order of the Garter?

Charles, as King, became the Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. He appoints new members personally.

The current members are split into Knights and Ladies Companion, Stranger Knights and Ladies  Companion and Royal Knights and Ladies Companion.

The Royal Knights and Ladies in the Order are:

  • King Charles
  • Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
  • Princess Anne
  • Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
  • Princess Alexandra
  • Prince Andrew, Duke of York
  • Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh
  • Prince William
  • Queen Camilla.
King Charles and Queen Camilla
Queen Camilla was appointed last year, by the late Queen Elizabeth II (Picture: Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)

The Stranger Knights and Ladies Companion are foreign royals given honorary inclusion. They are:

  • Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark
  • Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden
  • King Juan Carlos I of Spain
  • Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands
  • Emperor Akihito of Japan
  • Harald V, King of Norway
  • Felipe VI, King of Spain
  • Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands.

The remaining Knights and Ladies Companion, invited due to their work or notable achievements are:

  • James Hamilton, the Duke of Abercorn
  • Baron Butler of Brockwell, the former Cabinet Secretary
  • John Major, former Prime Minister
  • Baron Luce, former Lord Chamberlain
  • Sir Thomas Dunne, a former Lord-Lieutenant
  • Baron Phillips, former Lord Chief Justice
  • Baron Stirrup, former Director General of the Security Service
  • Baron King of Lothbury, former Governor of the Bank of England
  • The 5th Baron Shuttleworth Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire
  • Alan Henry Brooke, Lord in Waiting to the King
  • Lady Mary Fagan, former Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire
  • Baron Gascoyne-Cecil, former Leader of the House of Lords
  • Lady Mary Peters, Olympic Gold medallist and former Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast
  • Baroness Amos, former Leader of the House of Lords
  • Tony Blair, former Prime Minister
  • Baroness Ashton, former Leader of the House of Lords*
  • Baron Patten of Barnes, former Chairman of the BBC Trust*.

*These are the two newest appointees, picked by the King to be welcomed in this year.

Engraving of King Edward III founding the Order of the Garter
One of the earliest records of the Garter go back to 1857, an engraving of King Edward III founding the Order of the Garter as ‘a society, fellowship and college of knights’ in 1348 (Picture: Getty)

When is Garter Day 2023?

Garter Day is the annual procession of the Order – and this year it’s taking place today, June 19.

During the Garter Day procession, The King and the Knights congregate in grand velvet robes, glistening insignia and plumed hats.

Garter Day kicks off with the King formally investing in new Companions with the Order’s insignia in the Throne Room of Windsor Castle.

This year, those two will be Baroness Ashton, former Leader of the House of Lords and Baron Patten of Barnes, former Chairman of the BBC Trust.

The members and officers then attend a lunch, before a grand service in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

A service is then held at St George’s Chapel, which has been the spiritual home of the Order throughout its existence.

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