Garter Day: Camilla’s new role explained as Duchess of Cornwall set to become Royal Lady of the Noblest Order of the Garter
Windsor Castle will host today, June 13, the first Garter Day in three years. Garter Day, a significant event in the royal family calendar, is spiced up with all the usual royal tradition and today will involve two new appointments officially assigned to their roles.
For those unaware, Garter Day sees a procession, usually led by the Queen, take place at Windsor Castle – the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter. Members of the royal family and knights are also usually present, adorning elegant velvet robes and feathered hats.
Originally created in 1348 by King Edward III, the Most Noble Order of the Garter is Britain’s oldest order of chivalry and this year Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is set to be officially inducted into the ‘Order. King Edward III is said to have founded the Order after being inspired by King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and will today see the Duchess of Cornwall officially invested in her new role by Her Majesty in the throne room of the garter.
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Today, Camilla will be officially recognized as Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter, although her appointment was announced at the end of 2021. Buckingham Palace confirmed her appointment with a statement, which read: “Her Majesty the Queen was graciously pleased to appoint Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO, to be a Royal Dame of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.”
What does Camilla’s new role mean?
The status of Lady of the Garter was not revived until the beginning of the 20th century, having been instituted in 1348 and then abolished under the successors of Henry VII. When Edward III founded the Order of the Garter in the 14th century, 26 men were members of the exclusive chivalric fraternity; however, the King then decided that women should also play a role in the Order.
The Ladies of the Garter usually belonged to the royal family or were associated with the Order by marriage or kinship. They were treated with great respect to the women of the day and were given dresses and hoods for the annual celebrations at Windsor Castle – St George’s Day.
Edward VII revived the tradition in 1901 when he bestowed the honor on his wife, Queen Alexandra. Queen Alexandra was then given her own stand and banner in St George’s Chapel, with George V and George VI following suit.
Today, individuals are appointed to the Order in recognition of their dedication to public service. However, there are also members of the Order who hold office on an honorary basis. The Queen personally names the Order, as she holds the role of Sovereign of the Garter.
Who else is a member of the Order of the Garter?
Besides the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen is also included in the order as Sovereign of the Garter. Other senior members of the Royal Family also hold roles in the Order; Royal Knights and Ladies Companions of the Noblest Order of the Garter include the Queen’s cousins Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
During Her Majesty’s reign, her four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were also appointed to the Order. The same year Prince Charles received his title of Prince of Wales, he was also made a Royal Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter.
Prince William became the 1,000th Knight in 2008, when he was made a Knight Royal. Some working members of the Royal Family, including his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, have yet to be appointed to the Order, such as Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Duchess of Gloucester.
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