Today’s Garter Day service saw The Queen driven down to St George’s Chapel, instead of her usual walk, and a noticeably absent Prince Philip.
On a sunny day at Windsor Castle, the Most Noble Order of the Garter celebrated its history with a service in the chapel, on one of the most colourful days in the royal calendar. The Knights and Ladies Companion of the Order wore their Garter regalia, including deep blue velvet cloaks and Tudor bonnets with ostrich feathers for the occasion. You can read more about the regalia here, but if you’re more interested in the non-garter ladies’ fashion, head to our sister site, Replicate Royalty.
The Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry founded by Edward III in 1348 and regarded as the most prestigious British order of chivalry; the two new members of the Order – Lady Mary Fagan and The Viscount Brookeborough – were installed this year in the Throne Room of Windsor Castle, followed by a luncheon, before the procession and service.
The Military Knights of Windsor led the way down through the castle ward for the ceremony, followed by the Heralds and then the Knights and Ladies. These include The Lord King of Lothbury, Former Governor of the Bank of England; Sir John Major, Former Prime Minister; The Duke of Abercorn, Former Lord Steward of the Household; and The Baroness Manningham-Buller, Former Director-General of MI5.
Starting with the lowest seniority, that is, the newest Knights and Ladies, up to the lower-ranking Royals, the procession made its way to the Chapel.
The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra were first, followed by The Duke of Gloucester and The Princess Royal.
Behind them came The Duke of York and Earl of Wessex, then The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge.
Puzzling observers for a few minutes was The Queen’s absence from the parade; she emerged shortly after the procession had begun, in a car.
The Queen has been driven down before – 2016’s Garter Day in fact – alongside other members of the Royal Family, but this was due to inclement weather. It seems to be another sign that Her Majesty’s age is somewhat catching up with her, making the walk down from her private apartments more of a struggle; she is 92, after all.
The Duke of Edinburgh was absent from the day, as he was Trooping the Colour last week. Prince Philip retired from official duties last summer, but a statement from the palace said at the time he ‘may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time’.
The 97-year-old attended both events last year, but of course recently underwent a successful hip replacement, managing to walk into the Chapel at Prince Harry’s wedding.
The Duchess of Cambridge was also not in attendance today, being on maternity leave after the birth of Prince Louis in April – coincidentally both St George’s Day, who is patron of the Order of the Garter.
Exiting the chapel with two pageboys holding her robe’s train, Her Majesty looked every inch the regal Monarch. It was up to Prince Charles and Camilla to accompany Her Majesty in the carriage ride back; usually she and Philip share a carriage.
— Stephen (@SJT_67) June 18, 2018
Again, the order of seniority took members of the Royal Family back to the Upper Ward and private apartments.
This put The Duke of Cambridge in a carriage with his uncles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, plus his aunt Sophie, Countess of Wessex, followed by
Our reporter, Stephen, who was at the Castle for the day, said: “Hundreds of people from all over the world gathered at Windsor to witness one of the most ancient but gloriously colourful ceremonial set pieces Britain has to offer. The weather was perfect. The immaculate military and royal pageantry will live in the memory for a very long time.”