King Charles appoints Prince Edward to the Order of the Thistle

A personal gift to mark the Duke's 60th birthday

Marking his youngest brother’s 60th birthday, The King has been ‘graciously pleased’ to appoint The Duke of Edinburgh to the Order of the Thistle.

The announcement comes exactly a year after His Majesty conferred the Dukedom of Edinburgh to Prince Edward, fulfilling the late Queen and Prince Philip’s wish from when he married Sophie in 1999.

A new photograph of Edward was released to mark his 60th birthday. (Buckingham Palace/Chris Jeff)

The Order of the Thistle is the most senior order of chivalry in Scotland and the second highest order in Britain, preceded by the Order of the Garter.

Appointments to the Order are entirely in the Monarch’s personal gift, recognising those who have held public office or contributed significantly to national life.

James II (also known as James VII of Scotland) established the Order of the Thistle with a statutory basis under new rules in 1687, which was to reward individuals who supported the King’s political and religious views and aims in Scotland. James II was a Catholic, eventually pushed from the throne in favour of William III and Mary II.

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The order originally was comprised of the Scottish Sovereign and eight knights. However, Queen Anne increased the number of knights to 12, and in 1827 the number was raised to 16, where it remains today.

Every other year, members of the order take part in a grand procession to the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle in Edinburgh, for the Order of the Thistle Service.

Elizabeth II was head of the Order of the Thistle for over 70 years. (Royal Family)

Members of the Order meet at the Thistle Chapel in St Giles’ Cathedral, where any new members are installed by the Monarch.

There is then a procession which begins in the Signet Library in Edinburgh Town Centre, while in Parliament Square the collection The Guard of Honour with the Colours (flags) of the Royal Company takes place, accompanied by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

@crownchronicles A peel inside the Thistle Chapel in #stgilescathedral #Edinburgh #orderofthethistle #royalfamily #royaltok #crownchronicles #royal #history #architecture ♬ To Edinburgh – Ian Post

In addition to the 16 Knights and Ladies, The Queen, The Princess Royal and The Duke of Rothesay (similar to the Dukedom of Cornwall, this is an automatic but Scotland-specific title given to first-born male heirs apparent) are Royal Knights of the Thistle.

King Charles III appointed his wife to the Order of the Thistle in June 2023. She first wore the robes of the Order of the Thistle for a Service in Scotland to mark the Coronation.

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