19 June 2023

King attends first Order of the Garter service of his reign

19 June 2023

The King and Queen waved to crowds as they attended a service of the most Noble Order of the Garter at Windsor Castle.

Monday’s ceremony was Charles’ first service for the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in Britain, since becoming King and marked the official installation of two new members.

Former Labour minister Catherine Ashton was made Lady Companion while Chris Patten, the final governor of Hong Kong, became a Knight Companion.

Thousands of members of the public gathered inside the castle grounds to see the procession arrive at St George’s Chapel.

Members of the Order in attendance included former prime ministers Sir Tony Blair and Sir John Major, as well as the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh, among others.

The Princess of Wales also attended and shared a smile with William as the procession moved past.

Meanwhile, Queen Camilla arrived with Charles and could be seen clinging to her hat as the wind whipped up around her.

The Duke of York, who is a member of the Order, did not attend.

Meanwhile, two other members of the Order, Lord Shuttleworth and Lord Luce, were named in the order of service but were unable to attend.

After the service, a procession of four Ascot Landau coaches ferried away members of the royal family who waved to the crowds as they went past.

The ceremony was attended by 800 guests inside the chapel and 2,900 members of the public who had won ballot tickets to watch from outside.

Samantha Toomes, 53, from Ripon, North Yorkshire, said: “It’s the first time we’ve been here since the Queen passed away, and I did feel quite sad this morning.

“Last year we came hoping to see her.”

The married sales director and mother-of-four added: “We do pomp really well in this country.

“It’s just amazing to watch the ceremony take place – it’s part of our great tradition.

“To be part of that is very special.”

The appointment of the Baroness Ashton of Upholland and the Lord Patten of Barnes was announced on St George’s Day (April 23), the patron saint of the Order.

Baroness Ashton served as parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice between 1999 and 2007.

She also served as leader of the House of Lords and lord president of the Council as well as diplomatic roles including British European commissioner.

She was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to international diplomacy and is currently Chancellor of the Order.

A former Conservative MP, Lord Patten of Barnes served as governor of Hong Kong from 1992 to the handover to China in 1997.

He also served as environment secretary and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as well as Conservative Party chairman.

The Order of the Garter is the most senior order of chivalry in Britain, established by King Edward III nearly 700 years ago.

The Order comprises 24 members, including the King and Queen, several members of the royal family and 18 knights or ladies.

The Royal website states: “Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the Sovereign to honour those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally.”

In addition to the 24 knights or ladies, overseas monarchs, known as supernumerary, or stranger knights, have also been appointed to the Order.

The King of Spain and The King of the Netherlands were both installed as members of the Order at the Garter Day Service in 2019.

Other members of the Order have included Marshal of the RAF, Lord Stirrup, and former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

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