The Queen has appointed the Duchess of Cornwall as a Royal Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the highest British Order. As the New Year’s Honours List was made public, Buckingham Palace said in a a Press Release:
Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased to appoint Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, G.C.V.O. to be a Royal Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
This extraordinary appointment is a massive show of affection and admiration from the Queen towards her daughter-in-law, since in the previous reigns, it had become tradition for a Queen Consort to receive the Order of the Garter from her husband soon after his accession to the throne, though the late Duke of Edinburgh received the Order days before his Wedding in 1947. Reserved for male members of the Royal Family as well female Sovereigns and Queen Consorts in the previous few reigns, in recent years the Queen has appointed other female members of the Royal Family; the Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra, into the Order though the Duchess’ appointment is the first of a Royal by marriage who is not a Queen Consort. Previously the Duchess had been made a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and was also given the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, the latter of which she will continue to wear with her Sash and Insignia of the Order of the Garter.
Founded by King Edward III in 1348, the Most Noble Order of the Garter was formed after the Countess of Salisbury’s garter slipped from her leg while dancing, and the King allegedly picked it up and uttered the phrase ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ – Shame to the person who thinks evil of it. The oldest and most senior Order in the United Kingdom, the Order of the Garter is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales and 24 members as well as members of the Royal Family, known as Royal Knights and Ladies, and Foreign Sovereigns, known as Stranger (or Extra) Knights and Ladies. Members are appointed in recognition of extraordinary public service, contributions to national life or personal service to the Sovereign, and is granted solely at the discretion of the Queen. New members are traditionally announced on St George’s Day, April 23rd, and the annual Order of the Garter Service is held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on the Monday of Ascot Week in June. The insignia features a gold collar, from which is suspended the ‘Great George’, a pendant depicting Saint George on horseback slaying a dragon. It is worn at the State Opening of Parliament or the Service, along with the Mantle and Hat. The badge, known as the ‘Lesser George’, oval-shaped pendant, is suspended from the four-inch wide, kingfisher blue Sash that is worn from the left shoulder to the right hip. The eight-pointed silver Star, with a central disc featuring the heraldic shield of St George’s Cross, encircled by the garter, is worn on the torso. The Garter is made of dark blue velvet edged with gold, bearing the motto of the Order in gold lettering, and is worn by men just below the left knee, while women wear it on the left arm. The Order of the Garter is worn by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, all their children, the Duke of Cambridge, and all her paternal cousins.