New Knights installed by Prince Charles at Order of the Bath service

Today, The Prince of Wales was dressed in full regalia as he attended the Order of the Bath service at Westminster Abbey.

Prince Charles was installed as Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath by The Queen, Sovereign of the Order, in 1975. It is his role to preside over the service and install new members.

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The Prince of Wales attended the Order of the Bath Service today. (Clarence House)

The Order of the Bath was founded by George I in 1725, reviving a medieval custom where knights would bathe – hence the name – representing spiritual purification, before receiving an honour. Their motto is ‘Tria Juncta in Uno’ (’three joined in one’) referring to the Holy Trinity or the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, with the badge showing three crowns.

It is the fourth-most senior Order in the UK, after the dormant Order of St Patrick, with senior members wearing a red satin mantle (cloak) and black velvet hat with plume of feathers. The military division wear their respective uniforms, plus the order’s badge.

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The future King performed his duty today, installing nine new members to the Order. A service held every four years and honours officers of the Armed Services and civil servants.

Charles entered the Abbey to a military fanfare. He bowed his head as he passed the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, joined by the Knights and Dame Grand Cross. As the group processed up the aisle, Praise to the Lord was sung.

After an epistle, which was read by the Dean of Westminster, and a litany, the group walked past the high altar to the Henry VII Lady Chapel, the spiritual home of the Bath. Due to space, the most senior members have a stall for their use in the chapel.

At the altar, the heir to the throne made an offering of gold and silver coins, representing the surrender of worldly treasure, and the duty of the members to provide for the Church.

The new inductees made an oath during the ceremony and partially drew their swords, a small reminder of the Order’s origins in medieval knighthood.

Until the time of Queen Victoria, the Bath was exclusively a military order. Women were only admitted from 1971, and Princess Alice, The Duchess of Gloucester being the first Dame Grand Cross four years later.

George V ordered the revival of regular ceremonies shortly after his accession, a tradition that is continued today.

The Order consists of The Queen, the Great Master (The Prince of Wales) and three classes of members, with statutes providing for 120 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 295 Knights and Dames Commander and 1,455 Companions. Those from the Commonwealth can be made Honorary Members.

The Monarch attends every other service, and The Queen was in attendance at the 2018 service.

The Prince was installed as Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath by The Queen, Sovereign of the Order in 1975. (Clarence House)

Charles stepped in for The Queen at the Order of the Bath Service in 2014. He took on the role of giving the offering after Buckingham Palace aides feared that the steps at the Abbey were ‘too steep’ for Her Majesty, whilst dressed in full regalia. She was 88 at the time.

Over the course of the last month, royal fans have seen Charles stepping up to take on more duties on behalf of The Queen. He attended the State Opening of Parliament as The Queen’s Counsellor of State, alongside Prince William.

Last week, he hosted the first garden party at Buckingham Palace with his wife, Camilla and his sister, Anne.

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