What is the royal Order of the Garter ceremony?

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
Prince Charles, the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge during the Order of the Garter procession. [Photo: PA]

The Royal Family will be out together on Monday 17 June for the annual Order of the Garter ceremony in Windsor.

Just like the Trooping the Colour, which marks the Queen’s official birthday, you can expect the same kind of pomp and pageantry on the day.

Here’s everything you need to know about what the Order of the Garter is, what happens at the service and who will be in attendance this year.

What is the Order of the Garter?

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

The service takes place in Windsor. [Photo: PA]

The Order includes the Queen, who is Sovereign of the Garter, the Prince of Wales and several senior members of the Royal Family, and twenty-four knights or ladies chosen in recognition of their work.

They are chosen personally by the Queen to honour those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the monarch personally.

Who is among the Knights and Ladies Companion?

Male members are known as Knights Companion, while female members are Ladies Companion.

Current members include former prime minister John Major, former Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Lady Mary Fagan, Queen’s former Lord-in-waiting Alan Brooke, Viscount Brookeborough and Former Director-General of MI5 Baroness Manningham-Buller.

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Prince William became a Knight of the Garter in 2008. [Photo: Getty]

This year British former athlete Lady Mary Peters and former leader of the House of Lords Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury, will be invested with the Order's insignia by Her Majesty.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Kent, Princess Anne, the Duke of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Prince William are all additional royal Knights and Ladies Companions.

The Duke of Cambridge received the honour in April 2008, becoming the 1,000th Knight of the Garter.

When happens on the day?

The procession begins at Windsor Castle ahead of the Order of the Garter Service.

The Queen and the Knights wear traditional ceremonial dress, consisting of velvet robes, insignia and plumed hats. They are accompanied by a marching band and Officers of the Order during the procession.

There is a short service where any new Companions are installed. The Queen and other members of the Order then return to the Upper Ward of the castle in carriages.

What do the royals wear?

The Queen and her royal knights wear the traditional mantle and hat of the Order.

The dark blue velvet mantle is embroidered with the Order of the Garter insignia and has a dark red sash attached to the right shoulder. It has been worn members since the 15th century.

They also don black velvet Tudor style bonnets, with a plume of white ostrich and heron feathers and the shield of St George's cross.

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The Queen wears ceremonial uniform. [Photo: PA]

Up until the middle part of the 20th century, it was customary to wear Tudor style under-dress, consisting of white silk embroidered doublet, breeches, full hose, white doeskin pumps with satin bows and a sword belt with sword, under the robes.

But in modern times, morning dress or a lounge suit is worn.

Last year, the Queen added some sparkle to her ceremonial uniform with a pair of silver T-bar heels.

Who is attending this year?

The Queen will be joined by members of the Royal Family on the day. It’s thought the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be in attendance on the day.

King Felipe VI of Spain and King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands will also attend this year’s Garter Day, during which they will be installed in St. George’s Chapel as Supernumerary, or ‘Stranger’, Knights of the Garter, which are overseas monarchs appointed to the Order.

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The Duchess of Cambridge at the service in 2016. [Photo: PA]

They will be accompanied by their wives - Queen Letizia of Spain and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are not likely to attend, as Meghan is on maternity leave after the birth of baby Archie and Harry is not a Knight Companion.

The Duke of Edinburgh is also likely to be absent, as he retired from public duties in 2017.

Can members of the public watch?

A limited number of tickets are available for members of the public to watch the procession to St. George's Chapel from inside the precincts of Windsor Castle. Applicants can request up to four tickets each.

The Royal Family’s website states that applications must be sent between 1 January and 1 March each year to: GarterDay@royal.uk