The Order of the Garter was founded in 1348 by Edward III and is considered a senior British Order of Chivalry in England. The Order of the Garter honors the image of St.George, revered as the patron saint of England and is conferred to individuals belonging to British and Commonwealth realms. The Membership to the order is restricted to twenty-four Companions or members after the Sovereign and the Prince of Wales. The order also consists of Knights and ladies belonging to the British Royal Family as well as foreign monarchs. It is the Monarch’s prerogative to confer the honor to members in the Order of the Garter.
Every year the Garter Service and procession is held at Windsor Castle in June. The Garter service dates back to 1948 when King George VI revived the formal installation of new members in a ceremonial event. Announcements regarding new appointments to the Order of the Garter are made on 23rd April (St. George’s Day) though the installation ceremonies are held in the Royal Ascot Week of June on a Monday, generally known as the Garter Day. Thereafter the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh invite the members of the Order of the Garter for lunch at the Waterloo Chamber. Afterwards, the Knights, dressed in their blue velvet mantels and black velvet hats adorned with white plumes, go on foot to attend the service at St. George’s Chapel. The service is generally attended by the Queen and other Royalty.
Members of the Order of the Garter wear elaborate dresses and accessories for ceremonial occasions such as the annual Garter Service. The knights are dressed in their blue velvet mantels and black velvet hats adorned with white plumes. The collar is made of pure gold and worn over the mantle, around the neck. A jeweled figure of St. George is worn from the collar while the garter inscribed with the motto in gold lettering is worn by both the knights and ladies on ceremonial events.
There were twenty-six Founder Knights of the Order of the Garter listed in St. George’s Chapel which include Edward, Prince of Wales, Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Lancaster ,Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick. Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch, Ralph de Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford, William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March, John de Lisle, 2nd Baron Lisle, Bartholomew de Burghersh, John de Beauchamp, John de Mohun, 2nd Baron Mohun, Hugh de Courtenay,Thomas Holland, John de Grey,Richard Fitz-Simon, Miles Stapleton, Thomas Wale ,Hugh Wrottesley, Nele Loring, John Chandos, James Audley, Otho Holand, Henry Earn, Sanchet D'Abrichecourt, and Walter Paveley.
The Emblem of the Order of the Garter consists of a garter inscribed with the motto in gold lettering: "Honi soit qui mal y pense" which means “evil to him who evil thinks” Members of the Order of the Garter wear this insignia on ceremonial events. The names of new members to be ordained in the Order of the Garter are announced on St. George’s Day (23rd April) owing to the importance of Saint George as England’s patron saint. The three topmost British honors pertain to the particular constituent nation of the United Kingdom. The Order of the Garter is the oldest order existing in England and Wales while the other two orders, The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle concerns Scotland and The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick which is now dormant pertains to Ireland.