Order of the Garter

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The Order of the Garter (originally Order of the Blue Garter) is England’s highest order of chivalry, founded by Edward III and meant to exceed “in majesty, honour and fame all the chivalric orders in the world”.

The exact date of its inception is not known but it is thought that the knights first wore the insignia at a jousting tournament at Eltham Palace outside London in 1348.

The story goes that the beautiful Joan “the Fair Maid of Kent” dropped her garter at a royal ball. King Edward leapt forward, picked up the garter and secured it to his own knee, reproving the smirks of the courtiers with the phrase that has become the motto of the Order: “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (simply, “evil to him whom evil thinks”). Originally it was restricted to the Prince of Wales and 24 other “Valyantest men of the realm” (which, by the way, in theory, have always included women - the lovely Joan was amongst the original "Companions", and incidentally, Alice, the granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer would be honoured during the next century. No woman was honoured between the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VII). These days, members of the Royal family, certain foreign princes and other dignitaries are added to the list.

The order, whilst “open” to all citizens of the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth countries, is English. The Scottish equivalent is the Order of the Thistle.

Founding Members

  • Edward III
  • Edward the Black Prince
  • Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Lancaster
  • Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick
  • Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch
  • Ralph de Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford
  • William de Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury
  • Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March
  • John de Lisle, 2nd Baron Lisle
  • Bartholomew de Burghersh, 2nd Baron Burghersh
  • John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp
  • John de Mohun, 2nd Baron Mohun
  • Sir Hugh de Courtenay
  • Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent
  • John de Grey, 1st Baron Grey de Rotherfield
  • Sir Richard Fitz-Simon
  • Sir Miles Stapleton
  • Sir Thomas Wale
  • Sir Hugh Wrottesley
  • Sir Nele Loring
  • Sir John Chandos
  • Sir James Audley
  • Sir Otho Holand
  • Sir Henry Eam
  • Sir Sanchet D'Abrichecourt
  • Sir Walter Paveley