Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

The Most Noble Order of the Garter
Shame on him who thinks evil of it
Image courtesy of: Online-Utility
When first this order was ordained, my lords, Knights of the Garter were of noble birth, valiant and virtuous, full of haughty courage.” ~ William Shakespeare
Saint George—patron saint of England & all Christian knights—slaying the dragon
Image courtesy of: Saints.SPQN
Each year in June, a procession and service take place at Windsor Castle—as they have for centuries—in celebration of Great Britain's most time-honoured and traditional Order of Chivalry. It is not only the oldest and preeminent of England's Orders, but it is also reputed to be the most prestigious Chivalric Order in all of Christendom. (It is believed that the oldest known Chivalric Order—under the auspices of Saint George—is that which was founded in 312 by the Emperor Constantine: the Constantinian Angelic Knights of Saint George.) As such, it is a prestige that the Order has enjoyed from the very beginning of its inception. To give some scope to its great age, this year marks the six-hundredth and sixty-fifth anniversary of its founding. (Source: Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983)
Founded by King Edward III (1312–1377) around 1348 (the precise date of its formation remains uncertain as the original statutes pertaining to its foundation have not survived but most sources generally give 1348 as being the accepted year of its establishment), the Most Noble Order of the Garter is comprised—as it always has been—of the Monarch and his or her eldest son (and heir) and twenty-four members—(some sources give twenty-five or even twenty-six as the number of Knights)—or Companion Knights (plus any additional Royal Knights, or members of the Royal Family, on whom the Sovereign—being the 'fountain of honour'—chooses to bestow that honour)—formally known as the Knights of Saint George.
(The Order of the Garter and the appointment of Knights and Ladies of the Garter—like other Knightly Orders such as the Order of the Thistle (which is limited to sixteen Knights of Scottish descent), the Order of Merit (founded in 1902, during the reign of Edward VII, “as an order of special distinction limited to twenty-four members on whom no title is conferred”), the Royal Victorian Order (founded on April 21st, 1896, by Queen Victoria, who thought that “too much patronage was left in the hands of politicians” is awarded for outstanding personal service to the Sovereign. It is also awarded to foreign officials “with whom the sovereign comes into contact on State visits[Quotes: Hibbert, C., The Court of St. James's, 1979:203]), and the Royal Family Orders (begun by George IV in the early nineteenth century, the practice of presenting “portraits of the Sovereign set in diamonds suspended from a ribbon...[a] different coloured ribbon for each monarch” and only worn by the female members of the Royal Family on formal occasions [Quote: The British Monarchy, undated])—are all within the Sovereign's gift; that is, it is a decision made without Prime Ministerial advice and is wholly within the Monarch's personal choice and at his or her discretion; it is, therefore, a mark of Royal favour and esteem.)
(Sources: The Royal Household, undated; Hibbert, C., The Court of St. James's: The Monarch at Work from Victoria to Elizabeth II, 1979; College of St George - Windsor Castle, 2013)
The Coat of Arms of Edward III
Image courtesy of: Múltba néző
In England as well as in France in the fourteenth century (as in other periods of time and epochs), the heroic Arthurian legend—with its Knightly romance and Courtly graces—held a powerful sway in the minds (and imaginations) of many people; foremost among them—and no less an esteemed personage—was the English king, Edward III (reign: 1327–1377), who was not only a devotee of chivalry but of jousting tournaments as well. (The Arthurian legend—inherited from the Celtic bards of Brittany, Wales and Cornwall—was fashionable and held an irresistible romantic appeal among French-speaking aristocratic circles in France and England; for Edward III, being king of a politically turbulent realm—rent apart by years of civil unrest and anarchy—Arthur and his Knights symbolised continuity, even stability: an image of a unified—albeit, medieval—kingship. War and strife, then—not only in terms of internal civil wars but also stemming from territorial disputes—were common in the fourteenth century; in particular, wars between England and France.)
But the fourteenth century—aside from being an unstable period of time—was also a time of Knightly Orders. Christian monarchs founded some of the most illustrious Orders of the time: in Burgundy, for instance, the Order of the Golden Fleece; in France, the Order of Saint Michael—these being only two among the more notable. Not wanting to be outdone and sensing that a splendid Chivalric Order may be instrumental in uniting his divided, antagonistic nobility, Edward III resolved—in the precedent manner of King Arthur—to establish his own Knights of the Round Table and to ensure that his Court would come to be renowned throughout Europe as the centre of chivalry. According to David S. Fox (author of Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983), in January 1344, with that intent expressly in mind, Edward held a great tournament at Windsor. Mr. Fox takes up the story by citing the (French chronicler and one of the leading historians of the late Middle Ages) Jean Froissart's (ca. 1337–ca. 1405) Chroniques (or Chronicles of Froissart)—which cover the period from around 1326 to about 1400 and are generally considered to be “the single most important medieval prose narrative about the first part of the Hundred Years’ War(Quote: The Online Froissart): “[the King] resolved to rebuild and embellish the great castle of Windsor, which King Arthur had first founded in time past, and where he had erected that noble round table from whence so many gallant knights had issued forth.... King Edward, therefore, determined to establish an order of knighthood...” (Quote & source: Fox, D.S., Saint George, 1983:64). But as enamoured as Edward was of the fabled Knights of the Round Table, the King had second thoughts as to the choice of his new Order's patron. Edward shifted his choice from England's legendary King Arthur to England's patron saint (and the King's new hero): George.
Above left: King Edward III (unknown artist, unknown date) ~ National Portrait Gallery, London
Above right: a miniature of Edward III depicting the king wearing the Order of the Garter over his armour ~ ca. 1430–1440
Above left image, courtesy of: Luminarium | Above right image, courtesy of: Black Britain
 The son of Edward II and Isabella of France, Edward III came to the throne in his mid-teens when his mother—with the assistance of her lover, Roger Mortimer—deposed his father. During Edward's first few years as king, Queen Isabella and Moritmer ruled in his name; in 1330, when he was eighteen, however, Edward came into his power and ruled in his own name. Soon afterwards, the King had Mortimer executed; while Isabella's life was spared, the Queen Mother faced enforced banishment at her son's command.

The choice of Saint George as the patron of Edward III's newly-established Order is not a surprising one: although Edward's Order initially began with a tournament to revive the Round Table, it was Saint George's name that was loudly invoked on the battle field (“for they were convinced of its sovereign power”). (Typically, in war, the battle-cry of Edward III himself was “Edward, St. George! Edward, St. George!” or “St. George for England![Quotes: Fox, D.S., Saint George, 1983:63].) In fact, English soldiers were already accustomed to bearing the red cross flag of Saint George into combat. Although an international figure and being the common property of Christians throughout Christendom by his unique combination of “sanctity and purity with martial valour ... the model to which all knights should aspire” as well as personifying the dual ideals of the age, Chivalry and Religion, the saint—(deemed also to be the great patron of all Christian knights)—was appropriated by the English as their national patron and protector. Although King Edward had a clear idea of his Order's patron, what that Order would be called and what its nature would be was still unclear. That would be established in the years immediately following the 1346 Battle of Crécy. (Source: Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983)
Above left image, courtesy of: Full of Grace and Truth | Above right image, courtesy of: Lango Aurelian
Image courtesy of: Other icons
It all began in 1337. The death of King Philip IV prompted the King of England, Edward III, to claim the Throne of France for himself, thereby commencing the Hundred Years War in pursuit of that goal. (The war finally ended in the middle of the fifteenth century with the formal abandonment by the English Monarchs of their claims to French territory and the eviction of the English—with the exception of Calais—from France.) On 11th July, 1346, Edward III, “with an army of some 16,000 knights, men-at-arms, archers and foot soldiers landed at St. Vaast on the peninsular of the Contentin on the north coast of France, intent on attacking Normandy, while a second English army landed in South Western France at Bordeaux to invade the province of Aquitaine. One of the King’s first actions on landing in France was to knight his sixteen year old son Edward, Prince of Wales...
On August 26th, 1346, at Crécy (in northern France), the battle ensued between King Edward III (with his newly-knighted son Edward, Prince of Wales—known to posterity as “the Black Prince”—1330–1376) against Philip VI, King of France, and his army. (Ranged against the English and Welsh army were the combined military forces of the French, Bohemians, Flemings, Germans, Savoyards and Luxembourgers.) The English forces took up their position on a ridge between the villages of Creçy and Wadicourt; meanwhile, Philip’s army came north from Abbeyville, the advance guard arriving before the Creçy-Wadicourt ridge at around midday on August the 26th. “At around 4 pm the French moved forward for the assault, marching up the track that led to the English position. As they advanced, a sudden rainstorm swirled around the two armies.” The French went into battle with the cry “God and St. Denis” while the English cried, “God and St. George.” The struggle between the two forces continued far into the night. At around midnight, King Philip “abandoned the carnage, riding away from the battlefield to the castle of La Boyes. Challenged as to his identity by the sentry on the wall above the closed gate the King called, bitterly, 'Voici la fortune de la France' and was admitted. The battle ended soon after the King’s departure, the surviving French knights and men-at-arms fleeing the battlefield. The English army remained in its position for the rest of the night.” In spite of the formidably arranged opposition, the English were victorious. (Source & quotes: British Battles, 2012)
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales (“the Black Prince”) in his Garter Robes
(From William Burges's Garter Book, ca. 1430–1440)
(It is alleged that Prince Edward took the crest of three ostrich feathers & the motto “Ich dien” from the king of Bohemia—slain at the Battle of Crécy—as his own.)
Image courtesy of: Luminarium
It was only after his triumphant return from the Battle of Crécy that Edward III officially created the Order of the Garter. (After returning to England in October of 1347, “He [Edward] celebrated his triumph by a series of splendid tournaments, and completed his scheme for the establishment of the order of the Garter[Quote: Luminarium, undated].) At first, the Order was intended by the King to be reserved as the highest reward for loyalty as well as for military merit. (It may be recalled that the Prince of Wales, “the Black Prince,” along with the other twenty-four founder knights had all fought at Crécy.) The origin of the emblem of the Order—the blue garter—however, remains obscure. Legend has it that it may have been inspired by a trivial incident which took place at Court whilst Edward III danced with Joan, Countess of Salisbury (other sources indicate her as Joan, “the Fair Maid of Kent”). In the story, the Countess's garter fell to the floor and, after he had retrieved it, the King, to save the Countess from embarrassment, gallantly bound it to his own leg. Those present and watching this spectacle were apparently amused; not so the the King, who admonished them saying, “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (“Shame on him who thinks evil of it” or “Evil to him who evil thinks”). This, then, became the motto of the Order. (Modern scholars, on the other hand, tend to think it is more likely that the Order was “inspired by the strap used to attach pieces of armour, and that the motto could well have referred to critics of Edward's claim to the throne of France[quote: The Royal Forums, March 2004].) No matter how it attained its motto or whatever its true source, from its very beginning, the Order was headed by the Monarch and exclusively comprised of persons from the patrician ranks of the nobility, personally selected by the Sovereign—the Monarch's personal choice being a distinction that the Order enjoys to this day. 
(Sources:  The Royal Forums, March 2004; King Edward III of England, Luminarium, undated; Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983)

Apart from Edward III and his heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, the twenty-four founder Companion Knights (and first members) of the Order of the Garter included: Henry Plantagenet of Grosmont, 4th Earl of Lancaster and 1st Duke 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 Eam; Sanchet D'Abrichecourt; and Walter Paveley—all of whom were depicted individually in William Bruges's Garter Book, a pictorial book of arms of the Order of the Garter created circa 1430–1440. (Source: readtiger | Order of the Garter)

Edward III reigned for fifty years, having sired twelve children—seven sons and five daughters. Aside from Edward the Black Prince, among Edward's sons were John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Edmund of Langley (later Duke of York): John and Edmund founded the rival Houses of  Lancaster and York; the Wars of the Roses—(with the House of Lancaster represented by the red rose and the House of York by the white rose)—would ensue, for thirty years, from 1455 to 1485. Also during his reign, what would come to be known as the Hundred Years War with France was begun; Edward III died on June 21st, 1377, leaving Richard (1367–1400), his young grandson (and younger son of Edward the Black Prince, better known as Richard II), as king.

In the following century, Edward IV (1442–1483), son of Richard, Duke of York (ca. 1410–1460), instituted the Order of the Garter in Ireland in 1466 but it was abolished by Parliament in 1494.
(Sources: Edward III, BBC History; King Edward III of EnglandLuminarium, undated; Parker, J., Glossary of terms used in heraldry, heraldsnet.org, undated)


Henry Plantagenet of Grosmont (ca. 1310–1361), First Duke of Lancaster (created in 1351), Earl Lancaster & Leicester ~ one of the founding members of the Order
(From William Burges's Garter Book, ca. 1430‒1440)
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

It was another King Edward—Edward VI (1537–1553)—however, who would dishonour the goodly Saint George. The majority of Knights were, naturally, Roman Catholic. But during the Reformation, the prestige and cult of the saint went into decline. In the age of gunpowder, a medieval knight mounted on his charger, lance and sword in hand in battle, became something archaic and, during the era of Protestantism, 'Popish' saints—and all things Catholic—fell out of favour (and out of fashion); indeed, they became heretical. Having acceded to the English Throne on January 28th, 1547, at the death of his father, Henry VIII (1491–1547), Edward VI went so far as to not only attempt to suppress the cult of Saint George—unsuccessfully—but even forbade the observance of the saint's annual feast day at Windsor (held, as it does to this day, annually on April the 23rd)—as such ceremonies were viewed by the King as being “superstitious, if not idolatrous.”

Sir Henry Guildford was elected Knight of the Garter in 1526
(Portrait is by Hans Holbein the Younger ~ 1527: The Royal Collection)
Purchased by King George II, this painting shows Sir Henry Guildford (1489‒1532), one of Henry VIII’s closest friends, wearing the gold collar of the Order. Upon the King's accession in 1509, he was appointed to the posts of Esquire of the Body as well as Master of Revels (responsible for the organisation of lavish Court entertainments). After a brief absence, Guildford returned to Henry's Court where he was appointed Comptroller of the Royal Household.
Source & image: The Royal Collection

It was only during the glorious reign of Elizabeth I (1533–1603; reign: 1558–1603) that a conscious effort was made to revive the cult of Saint George and the Order of the Garter. Unlike her half-brother, the the astute Queen believed that the revival of chivalry was advantageous in developing “the mystique of her monarchy for dynastic reasons, and bind the nation round her throne”; she may even have believed that the slain dragon, pierced through by the lance of Saint George, represented the 'anti-Christ' in Rome, the Pope—(conversely, for the Catholics, it was the reverse: the dragon may have been the allegorical representation of Protestantism and George, the dragon slayer, the champion of the true and Apostolic Church of Rome and the vanquisher of Protestant heresy). Elizabeth, anxious to magnify the glory of her reign (known as 'Gloriana,' the date of her accession was a national holiday that was celebrated for two hundred years after her death), restored the annual festival of Saint George, making St. George's Day one of the most important feast days on the calendar. As such, St. George's Day festivities were attended by the highest nobles in the land, “and provided the occasion for the leaders of Church and state to join in swearing allegiance to her.” But St. George's Day celebrations were more than just a diplomatic or political tool; the spectacle and lavish display were a popular attraction. As they still do, the public loved the romance and pageantry of the occasion. “This was once again an age of patriotism and nationalism; and the intensely romantic figure of St. George fitted into the Elizabethan world of legend.” (Quotes & source: Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983:78-79)

Above right portrait is by Daniel Mytens
Above left image, courtesy of: Being Bess | Above right image, courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings
Above left: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (ca. 1531–1588) ~ ca. 1587 | Above right: William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1521–1598)
Above left image, courtesy of: All Things Robert Dudley | Above right image, courtesy of: Being Bess

After the Tudor dynasty came to an end in 1603, it was replaced by the Stuarts , a dynasty that lasted for one-hundred-and-eleven years, from 1603 to 1714. (The Stuart dynasty began with the accession of King James I of England—also known as James VI of Scotland, the only son of that most infamous Catholic, Mary, Queen of Scots—at the death of Elizabeth I, 'The Virgin Queen,' on March 24th, 1603, at Richmond Palace and after a splendid forty-five year reign. As King of England as well as Scotland, James combined, for the first time, the two Thrones; thus is was the Stuarts who were the first kings of the United Kingdom. It was also James I who ordered a new translation of the Bible which became known as the Authorised King James's Version of the Bible.) The kings of the seventeenth-century were as equally enamoured by the nostalgic romance of medieval feudalism and Arthurian chivalry as those of the previous centuries. (Source: The British Monarchy, 2009)

Above left, James I of England (James VI of Scotland) (1566–1625)
Above left portrait is by (after) Daniel Mytens ~ ca.1625–1645
(National Trust, Ham House)
Above right, Henry, Prince of Wales (1594–1612), eldest son of James I of England & brother of Charles I
Above right portrait is by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger ~ ca. 1603
Above left image, courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings | Above right image, courtesy of: National Portrait Gallery
And while credit must be given to Elizabeth I for her intelligence in astutely recognizing the (advantageous) political value of Saint George's Day festivities and for reviving the ceremonies associated with the saint, namely the Order of the Garter, it was a Stuart king, the second monarch of the new dynasty—Charles I (1600–1649; reign: 1625–1649)—who “restored the ancient splendour of the Order, and his Garter ceremonies at Windsor were famous for their extraordinary magnificence.”

Deeply religious and a lover of ritual as well as a patron of the arts (the King invited such first-rate artists as Anthony van Dyck and his mentor, teacher, linguist, and diplomat, Peter Paul Rubens to work as Court painters in England—Rubens, who was in England from 1629–1630 in his capacity as a diplomat, even portrayed Charles “in the guise of a very English St. George [entitled Landscape With St. George and the Dragon, presently in the Royal Collection], standing over his dragon on the banks of the Thames.... the picture appropriately depicts him in the company of Queen Henrietta Maria, who is shown in the role of George's princess [though it is debatable whether or not 'George's princess' is in fact a portrayal of Henrietta-Maria, most art historians are in consent that the figure of 'George' is Charles],” Charles also purchased a great collection of paintings by Raphael Sanzio and Tiziano “Titian” Vecelliothis collection was later dispersed by Oliver Cromwell). (Quotes: Fox, D.S., Saint George, 1983:80)
Charles I (1600–1649)
Portrait is by Sir Anthony van Dyck
Charles was considered to be “the royal patron and protector of the Garter, and to St. George as its spiritual and protector” as well as a patron of the arts & artists. It was Charles who introduced the eight-pointed Garter Star in 1627: “It was to be worn by Knights of the Garter 'upon the left part of their cloaks, coats and riding cassocks, at all times when they shall not wear their robes, and in all places and assemblies...a testimony to the World, of the honour they hold...the Order Instituted and Ordained for persons of the highest honour and greatest worth'.”
(Sources & quotes: David S. Fox, Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983 | V&A, 2013)
Image courtesy of: Artscape
Above: Charles II (1630–1685)
Charles II freely bestowed the Order of the Garter upon his illegitimate children
Above left portrait attributed to Simon Pietersz Verelst ~ ca. 1670–
Above left image, courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons | Above right image, courtesy of: readtiger | Charles II of Engalnd

Charles I was the second son of James I and Anne of Denmark who became heir to the throne after the death of his elder brother, Prince Henry, in 1612. On May 13th, 1611, Charles was created Knight of the Garter at Windsor “in a colourful ceremony that made a deep impression upon him(Quote: Gregg, P. King Charles I, 1981:22). Shortly after his accession in 1625, Charles “added to the regalia by embroidering on the cloak of every Knight a large cross within a garter with a 'glory' of silver rays emanating from the cross. In 1629, he struck a special commemorative medal with the legend 'Prisci Decus Ordinis Auctum' [Ancient Honour of the Order Increased (or Enlarged)] ... In being religious, the Order and its ceremony were of more significance to Charles than the Court masques which were mainly classical in theme and allusion(Quote: Gregg, P. King Charles I, 1981:254-55).

As King, Charles took his responsibilities as Garter Sovereign seriously; the King considered Saint George “as being in a sense his saintly counterpart.” More significantly, there are frequent Court references to Charles as being “the royal patron and protector of the Garter, and to St. George as its spiritual patron and protector[Quotes: Fox, D.S., Saint George, 1983:80]. One of Charles's main contributions to the Order was his  introduction of the eight-pointed Garter Star in 1627. The King stipulated that the Garter Star was to be worn “upon the left part of their cloaks, coats and riding cassocks, at all times when they shall not wear their robes, and in all places and assemblies...a testimony to the World, of the honour they hold...the Order Instituted and Ordained for persons of the highest honour and greatest worth [Quote: V&A, 2013].

While Charles's father, the late James I, had wrought some minor changes to the Order through a Commission in 1611, it was Charles who appointed yet another commission of Knights, in 1630, with the express aim of restoring the “Order to its ancient purity. He restored the Grand Feast permanently to Windsor where Matthew Wren, the Dean, was only too anxious to associate High Church practices with the ritual of the Order. Ceremonies became more elaborate, tapestries showing the Virgin and St. George covered the altar in St. George's Chapel, his image appeared on the walls, the feasts of St. George became more of a dedication, less of a public spectacle.(Quote: Gregg, P. King Charles I, 1981:254)

Charles I wore his Order—(ornamented with over four-hundred diamonds)—to his execution in 1649. Also with him on that final day, was his “Lesser George.” Unlike the “Great George,” which hung as a jewelled and enamelled pendant—modelled in the round—from the ornate gold Garter collar, the “Lesser George” is a flatter portrayal of the Saint. It often “contained in or engraved on a locket and, being smaller, could be suspended from a blue ribbon round the neck or pinned upon the breast.” Charles always wore his; it contained “a portrait of his wife, as well as the Saint, and it was with him on his dying day(Quotes: Gregg, P. King Charles I, 1981:255). (Sources: The British Monarchy, 2009; Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983; Gregg, P. King Charles I, 1981)

Above: James II, as Duke of York (1633–1701)
(James II, who succeeded his brother, Charles II, to the throne and reigned from 1685 until 1688, was the first Roman Catholic King of England—he converted to Catholicism in 1669—since the Tudor Mary I [1516–1558])
Both portraits are by Sir Peter Lely ~ above left: ca. 1682 | above right: 1674
(Left: National Trust, Chirk Castle | Right: National Trust, Kedleston Hall and Eastern Museum)
Both images above are courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings

William III (1650–1702) ~ (as Prince of Orange)
(Nephew & son-in-law of James II)
Above left portrait is by Sir Peter Lely
Above right portrait is attributed to/after Willem Verelst
William invaded England in 1688, ultimately deposing James II and James IV, becoming King of England, Scotland and Ireland.”
This portrait is of William before he seized the throne, as he is wearing the robes of the Order of the Garter. He was admitted to the Order in 1653, but was not installed until the end of his visit to England in 1670/71. However, he looks too old here to have been painted then. It seems possible that it was painted around 1677, since this portrait bears many similarities to another of William III painted by Lely around that time.”
Source, quote & above left image, courtesy of: National Trust Collections
Above right image, courtesy of: Good Gentlewoman
Above: Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Cumberland (1619–1682)
A nephew of Charles I—(his mother, Elizabeth, was the sister of Charles I)—& commanded the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War
Above left portrait is by Simon Pietersz Verelst (1644–1721) ~ ca. 1680–1682
(Petworth House and Park, West Sussex)
Above right portrait is by/after Peter Lely ~ (a copy after a painting ca. 1672)
(The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology)
Above left image, courtesy of: Online-Utility | Above right image, courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings

The Order of the Garter is so ancient that some aspects of it—such as the real source of its motto—are opaque, open to speculation and debate. Other things, on the other hand, are clear and, by tradition, have remained the same from the time of its foundation. The home of the Garter is one of those clear-cut traditions that have remained steadfast for centuries: the Collegiate Chapel Royal of St. George, Windsor Castle. The Chapel of St. George provided the Knights with their official sanctuary and Saint George, being the patron of the Order, took pride of place—at least spiritually.

As for the Chapel, the late-Gothic edifice that we see and know today was begun by Edward IV (and dates from 1475)—who believed that “he could impress his subjects by a policy of splendour, and accordingly rebuilt St. George's Chapel on a far more sumptuous scale, as a monument not only to the saint but also to his own dynasty of York[Quote: Fox, D.S., Saint George, 1983:73]—and completed by Henry VIII. It was also Edward IV who used membership of the Garter as a tool in diplomatic affairs and was the first English monarch to extend that membership to foreign rulers and princes. One of the first to be admitted to the Order was the Emperor Sigismund, who visited England, in 1416, to be formally installed as a Garter Knight. (The cult of Saint George, chivalry, and of the Order of the Garter was taken seriously by the Tudors—the glory of Saint George reflected the glory of the monarchy. As an offering, Sigismund had brought with him a relic, “the heart of St. George,” to the Garter Chapel. Other relics followed: in 1505, for example, Cardinal Amboise presented Henry VII with the “right leg of St. George” on behalf of the French King.)
(Source & quotes: Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983)

Coat of Arms of the Garter King of Arms ~ (Office of the Order)
(There are six Officers of the Order of the Garter: Prelate (who is always the Bishop of Winchester); Chancellor; Registrar (Dean of Windsor since the reign of Charles I); Garter King of Arms; Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod & the Secretary)
The Garter King of Arms was first instituted in the summer of 1415—on June 30th—by Henry V, just before he set sail for France. Also known simply as 'Garter' (or King of Arms of the Order of the Garter) he is the chief of the official heralds of England. “Garter was at once king of arms of the Order and ex officio head of the officers of arms in England.”
On his appointment, the Garter King of Arms takes two oaths—“one relative to the Order of the Garter before the Sovereign, another before the Earl Marshal as head of the College of Heralds. He may appoint a herald for his deputy, and must be a native of England, and a gentleman bearing arms. He, together with the other officers of arms, has the privilege of correcting errors or usurpations in all armorial bearings. He assigns to every new peer his place in Parliament, and carries the ensigns of the Order to foreign dignitaries upon their being elected, and has to obey any royal command relative to the Order.”
Sources & quotes: Garter King of Arms & Kings Garter | Image courtesy of: Sodacan
Above: John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722), hero of the Battle of Blenheim
Above left portrait is by Godfrey Kneller | Above right portrait is attributed to Michael Dahl
Above left image, courtesy of: British Battles | Above right image, courtesy of: National Army Museum
The Chapel Royal of St. George is not only home to the Order of the Garter—(each knight has a stall assigned to him in the Chapel; and within each stall, a knight is required to display a banner of his arms, together with a helmet, crest, sword, and an enamelled stall-plate (which remains permanently fixed in the stall even after the Knight's death; the oldest plate dates from around 1390). Known as 'achievements,' these are “taken down on the knight's death and the insignia are returned to the Sovereign. The stallplates remain as a memorial and these now form one of the finest collections of heraldry in the world[Quote: The British Monarchy, 2009])—it is also the final resting place of no less than ten Kings and Queens of England: the formidable Henry VIII and the favourite of his six Queen-wives, Jane Seymour; Charles I (who was refused interment in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster); George III; Edward VII and his consort, Queen Alexandra; George V and Queen Mary; George VI and—most recently—Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (whose remains lie buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel), are among those who are interred there. (It was George III who built the Royal Vault in St. George's Chapel where the above-mentioned monarchs, their consorts and an assortment of various family members rest. “At the appropriate moment in the funeral service, the coffin descends into the vault below. Most Kings and Queens since George III have been buried at St George's. Members of the Royal Family have also been interred in the Royal Vault, but more recently, it has been normal to bury them in the Royal Family's Private Burial Ground at Frogmore in the grounds of Windsor Castle[Quote: College of St George, 2013].)

(The Chapel—along with the College buildings—are not the property of the State, the Church of England or the Royal Family. That said—and on that account—they are not the financial responsibility of either one of these three institutions. Therefore, and contrary to what most people believe, the College relies almost entirely on visitor admission charges for the routine maintenance of the Chapel.) (Sources: College of St George - Windsor Castle, 2013; Fox, D.S., Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces, 1983; The British Monarchy, 2009; The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Encyclopaedia Britannica, undated; Gregg, P. King Charles I, 1981)

Above left: George I (1660–1727) | Above right: George II (1683–1760), when Prince of Wales 
Both portraits above are by/after Sir Godfrey Kneller ~ Left: 1714 | Right: ca. 1718
Above left image, courtesy of: National Portrait Gallery | Above right image, courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings
George III (1738–1820) in Garter Robes
Portrait is by Thomas Gainsborough ~ date unknown
(National Trust, Belton House)
Image courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings
Above left: George, Prince of Wales & Frederick, the future Duke of York
Above left portrait is by Benjamin West ~ ca. 1778
Above right: Prince Frederick, Duke of York
(The second—& favourite—son of George III in full Garter robes)
Above right portrait is by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Above left image, courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons | Above right image, courtesy of: Ingos England - Blog
Beginning with the Garter (“of dark blue velvet, edged with gold, bearing the motto, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense'...which is worn by men below the left knee and by ladies on the left arm[Quote: Debrett's, undated])—blue being the colour of the royal livery of France: by his victory at the Battle of Crécy, Edward III, who instituted the Order in reward to some of the most distinguished persons by whose assistance he accomplished the conquest, had assumed the title of 'King of France'—and badge (depicting Saint George and the Dragon), the insignia and costume of the Order—with the exception, perhaps, of the midnight-blue velvet mantle with its richly embroidered Garter badge and lined with white silk taffeta which has essentially remained, more or less, with a few minor alterations, fairly unchanged—have tended to evolve over time; centuries, in fact. A golden collar (worn by each Knight on ceremonial occasions)—from which is suspended the sculptural and bejewelled golden figure of Saint George, known as “Great George,” depicted in the act of slaying the dragon and modelled in the round—was ordained in the sixteenth century by Henry VIII (it was also Henry VIII who added the Order of the Garter to the Royal Arms); it is also forbidden—by the statutes—to decorate the collar with precious stones. Consisting of twenty-four blue Garters encircling a central, red Tudor Rose, “barbed and seeded proper, upon a blue ground, and as many golden knots[Quote: Heraldic Terms, undated]—(in reference to the established number of twenty-four Companion Knights. This number of Companions is based on medieval membership of the Order which consisted of the English King and his heir, the Prince of Wales, each of whom were supported by twenty-four companions, as if at a jousting tournament). The collar may also be placed around arms, outside the garter. (As with the helmet, the crest, and the sword, upon the death of a Knight, these resplendent insignia are also returned to the Sovereign.)
The Collar of the Order of the Garter was added to the Garter insignia in the sixteenth-century
Enamelled gold figure of St. George slaying the dragon, modelled in the round—known as a “Great George”—& suspended from the collar. Collars made immediately after the Restoration are of gold & enamel & include twenty-four Tudor Roses and “knots”; typically, collars made prior to the Restoration are comprised of twenty-one roses & knots
Image courtesy of: The Royal Forums
“Great George” ~ 1661
(Created by Robert Vyner, goldsmith | Acquired by Charles II)
The above two images are courtesy of: Royal Collection Trust
Formed of eight, radiating points surrounding the badge—which consists of the red cross of Saint George, surrounded by the Garter motto—the “Garter Star” (& riband) of the Order was devised & added to the insignia in the seventeenth century
Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons
Similarly, the eight-pointed, radiating “Garter Star” and blue riband (the colour of which has evolved over time; it was originally light blue, but was a dark shade under the Hanoverian monarchs. In 1950 [during the reign of George VI], the colour was fixed as 'kingfisher blue'[Quote: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense, undated]) were devised and added to the insignia in the seventeenth-century. And as was previously mentioned, the “Garter Star” was added by Charles I in 1627 and the broad, four-inch wide riband, worn from the left shoulder to the right hip, was later introduced by Charles II. (Unlike the specific statutes and strictures placed on decoration of the Garter collar, namely the forbiddance of precious stones used in its decoration, there are no such constraints placed on the other insignia of the Order which could be decorated according to taste as well as affordability. By the time of his death in 1830, the self-indulgent George IV, a monarch infamous for his his vanity and taste for extravagance—and embodiment of that infamous Georgian extravagance for which he is best remembered being the exotic Royal Pavilion in Brighton, “home to some of the finest collections and examples of the chinoiserie style in Britain[Quote: Royal Pavilion, undated]—had accumulated, and left behind, no less than fifty-five different Garter badges of varying styles.) (Sources: Parker, J., Glossary of terms used in heraldry, Heraldic Terms, undated; heraldsnet.org, undated; The British Monarchy, 2009; Order of the Garter Ceremony, Debrett's, undated; The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Encyclopaedia Britannica, undated)
George, Prince of Wales—(the future George IV—1762–1830)—in Garter Robes
Portrait is by/after Sir Joshua Reynods ~ 1780
(The Mansion House & Guildhall)
Image courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings
The Prince Regent in Garter Robes ~ (the future George IV—1762–1830)
Portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) ~ 1819–1820
(The above portrait—gifted by George IV in 1820 to the University of Oxford—is a copy of an 1818 original)
Well-known for his vanity and excessive tastes, the self-indulgent George IV left fifty-five different Garter badges of varying styles
(Source: The British Monarchy, 2009)
The portrait is a replica of Lawrence's portrait of the Prince Regent in Garter robes of 1818 (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin), in which the head is based on the unfinished head and shoulders portrait, c.1814, in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 123). In later replicas of the portrait, the Prince's Garter hat, which lies on the table beside him, is replaced by a crown.”
Source & quote: vads, University of Oxford | Image courtesy of: Art.com
The arrival of the decidedly Protestant George I, Elector of Hanover (capital of Lower Saxony, situated in northwestern Germany), on English soil in August 1714 announced the termination of the Stuart dynasty and the start of the Hanoverian (even though there were no less than fifty Roman Catholic relatives with stronger claims. The strongest of which was the Jacobite claim of the Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart (1688–1766), the ‘old Pretender’—who, had he succeeded in his claim as the son of James II, would have been James III of England and James VIII of Scotland—“who landed in Scotland in 1715, following a rising of Scottish clans on his behalf; this was unsuccessful and he soon withdrew[Quote: The British Monarchy, 2009]). The son of Sophia, Electress of Hanover (and grand-daughter of James I), George (already being the Elector of Hanover at the time of Queen Anne's death, who, in spite of the fact that she bore several children, died without an heir) inherited the Throne of England under the Act of Settlement (George's maternal grandmother was Elizabeth Stuart, the second child of James I). George reigned from 1714 to 1727 but he was an unpopular king: aside from a few words, he never learned to speak English and persisted in only speaking German (and French). He was even more disliked by his son, Prince George, the Prince of Wales; in fact, there existed a mutual animosity between king and heir. (Tension, antagonism, mistrust, loathing and rivalry between king and heir would become a family trait of the Hanoverian dynasty, a trait that would seep down through the centuries and last well into the twentieth: George V's relationship with his eldest son and heir, Prince Edward (known as “David” in the family), Prince of Wales, was notoriously poor, highly tense and caustically critical.) George I died during one of his many visits to his beloved Germany and was buried at Leineschlosskirche, Hanover.
William IV (1765–1837) in Garter Robes
Portrait is by Sir David Wilkie ~ 1832
(The Royal Collection)
The King is shown in the robes of the Order of the Garter with the collars of the Garter and the Bath and resting his right hand on his sword; the Imperial Crown stands on a table beside him.”
Source & quote: Royal Collection Trust | Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons
It was under the Hanoverians that membership was expanded in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to include such additions as the inclusion of members of the Royal Family (known as Royal Knights Companion). (In 1786, for instance, George III also added four extra Garter stalls to the choir of St. George's Chapel.) Furthermore, George III instigated more changes by extending membership of the Order to the sons of the Sovereign (other than the traditional Prince of Wales—the Sovereign and the Prince of Wales are always members of the Order—and the twenty-four Knight Companions) as well as “certain other chosen lineal descendants of King George I, and foreigners (known as extra knights)(Quote: Encyclopaedia Britannica, undated). Other changes were introduced in the early nineteenth century. In 1805, the Order was extended to also include the direct blood line descendants of George II. Then in 1831, it was decided that all direct descendants of George I should be accorded the same privilege.

(In an interesting side-note, as Prince Regent, George III's son and successor, George IV, instituted the Royal Guelphic Order—or the Hanoverian Guelphic Order as it is alternatively known—in 1815; however, since it has not been conferred by the Crown since the death of William IV in 1837, this Order is no longer connected to the British Empire.)
(Sources: The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Encyclopaedia Britannica, undated; Electorate and Kingdom of Hanover, 2011; Heraldic Terms, undated; The Most Noble Order of the Garter, The Churchill Society, undated)
Queen Victoria (1819–1901) & Prince Albert (1819–1861) in Garter Robes
Both portraits are by Franz Xaver Winterhalter ~ 1843
Both images above are courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons

Edward “Bertie,” Prince of Wales & Alexandra “Alix” of Denmark, Princess of Wales, on their wedding day ~ March 10th, 1863
(The future Edward VII & Queen Alexandra)
Photograph is by John Jabez Edwin Mayall

The bride wore a gown made of white satin and Honiton lace; designed and stitched in England (the lace sent by King Leopold went unused because it was not ‘British’). Orange [and myrtle] blossoms adorned the front of the gown’s skirts; Princess Alix also wore a large floral headdress to match. The Prince of Wales wore the uniform of an army general under his Order of the Garter robes.”
Source & quote: The Royal Forums | Image courtesy of: Royal Collection Trust

Edward VII (1841–1910)
Portrait is by Philip Tennyson Cole ~ 1907
Image courtesy of: National Portrait Gallery

Emperor Taishō of Japan (1879–1926) ~ (Stranger Knight)
Foreign monarchs in the Order are known as 'Stranger Knights'. These knights are in addition to the number allowed by statute, and they include the kings of Spain and Sweden and the emperor of Japan. appointments were and are occasionally made to non-Christian rulers (for example, the Shah of Persia in 1902).”
Source & quote: The Royal Forums, March 2004 | Image courtesy of: readtiger | Order of the Garter

George V (1865–1936) in Garter & Coronation Robes
Above left portrait is by Charles Sims ~ ca. 1924
(National Galleries of Scotland)
Above right portrait is by Luke Fildes ~ ca. 1911
Above left image courtesy of: BBC - Your Painting | Above right image, courtesy of: Online-Utility
Up until 1946—and since the eighteenth century—appointments to the Order of the Garter (as well as nomination to the Order of the Thistle) were made by the Sovereign on the advice from the Government. It was Clement Attlee who, as Prime Minister in 1946, agreed with George VI's suggestion that the Order of the Garter ought to be wholly within the Sovereign's gift and not bestowed as a political honour. By that time, the Order had once again slipped in esteem: “it was no longer that illustrious and exclusive Christian fellowship which once it had been.” While Charles I had done much to restore the lustre and prestige of its past glory during his reign in the seventeenth century—Prisci Decus Ordinis Auctum—his successor, Charles II, had freely (and indiscriminately) bestowed the Order on his illegitimate children. In the eighteenth century, George III decided to increase its original number from “twenty-five knights so as to make room for as many as his sons or of his succsessors' sons as he might choose to elect.” By Queen Victoria's reign, the Order had become so little regarded that her mentor (and first Prime Minister), William Lamb, Lord Melbourne (1779–1848)—the two-time Prime Minister of Great Britain and one of the Queen's favourite Prime Ministers of Victoria's long reign—was able to remark that he “liked the Garter well enough because there was no 'damned merit in it'
Edward “David” Windsor, Prince of Wales (1894–1972)
(The future Edward VIII & later Duke of Windsor, was nominated to the Order on June 10th, 1911)
Above left portrait is by David Crochet
Above left image, courtesy of: monsieur labette | Above right image, courtesy of: Pinterest

George VI's suggestion to Attlee stemmed from his desire to rescue the Garter from further deterioration in public esteem. As Christopher Hibbert writes in his book, The Court of St. James's: The Monarch at Work from Victoria to Elizabeth II (1979), “Rejecting Winston Churchill's romantic suggestion that he should revert to the principles of Edward III and knight 'young paladins,' he [George VI] decided to appoint to the seven vacancies that existed in 1946 only such distinguished men as had performed some great service for their country.” (Winston Churchill was among those seven chosen by the King for the honour of becoming a Knight Companion of the Garter but, for the moment, Churchill declined. Privately, Churchill explained the reason for his refusal, saying, “I can hardly accept the Order of the Garter from the king after the people have given me the Order of the Boot [he had been voted out of office in the 1945 elections].” A few years later, in 1953, however, Churchill accepted the honour and was finally inducted into the Order  [Source & Quote: The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Encyclopaedia Britannica, undated].)

The King's intention, then, was to make the Order a reward of merit and service to the State. As noble as the intent was, its guidelines were not always adhered to: “...several knights elected to the Order, of which the Queen is Sovereign, have not had careers which have distinguished them as national figures, though those unknown to common fame—like Lord Middleton, a Yorkshire landowner, who confessed himself 'dumbfounded' when selected for the honour—have certainly devoted much of their time to unpaid duties of public life.” (Source & quote: Hibbert, C., The Court of St. James's: The Monarch at Work  from Victoria to Elizabeth II, 1979:203)

In 1948, on the six-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Garter, George VI—for the first time since 1805—“reinstated this procession. Since then, Garter Day has been, as in centuries past, a vital expression of the life of the Order and of our cultural heritage.(Source & quote: College of St George - Windsor Castle, 2013)


George VI (1895–1952) in Garter Robes
Above right portrait, King George VI, is by Sir Gerald Kelly ~ ca. 1941
Above left image, courtesy of: The Anglophile | Above right image, courtesy of: National Portrait Gallery
In the past and for much of its history, inclusion into the Order of the Garter was exclusive, strictly limited to those privileged members from within the aristocracy. Today, however, Knights are chosen from wider afield and from varied backgrounds(such as the above-mentioned Lord Middleton, the Yorkshire landowner, appointed to the Order by George VI in 1946)and the Monarch's choice is no longer based on nobility of birth but on those “who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally.” If there are any vacancies in the Order, appointments are announced on the 23rd of April: Saint George's Day.

Contrary to belief, membership and appointment to the Order of the Garter has not always been the exclusive domain of male Companions. In 1987, the present Monarch and Sovereign of the Order, Elizabeth II (who, as Princess Elizabeth—as she was known then—was elected as Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by her father, George VI, on November 11th, 1947, just over a week prior to her wedding to Prince Philip Mountbatten (of Greece and Denmark), the newly-created Duke of Edinburgh; he was appointed Royal Knight Companion of the Order on November 19th, 1947, the day before their wedding—held on November 20th), extended the eligibility to the Order to women—more significantly, for women to equally enjoy full membership and the same privileges as the Knights do; the last instance of a female member of the Order was in 1509 at the death of Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443–1509), mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII. The formidable and strong-willed Lady Margaret Beaufort was only one of the ladies during the Middle Ages who were associated with the Order (although it must be made clear that these women did not quite enjoy full membership as they do now). After her death in 1509, the Order remained exclusively male, except for reigning queens—in their role as Sovereign of the Order—until 1901 when Edward VII made his consort, Queen Alexandra, a Lady of the Order. (Source & quote: The British Monarchy, 2009)

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in Garter Robes
(Appointed to the Order of the Garter on November 19th, 1947, by King George VI)
Above left portrait is by Alex Talbot Rice, painted at Buckingham Palace to commemorate the Duke of Edinburgh's 82nd Birthday
Above right portrait is by Norman Hepple ~ 1960
Above left image, courtesy of: Alex Talbot Rice | Above right image, courtesy of: Philip Mould | Historical Portraits

Presently, there are a number of ladies who are affiliated with the Order, among them are Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (a member since May 16th, 1979); Baroness Soames (Mary, Lady Soames, the youngest daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, nominated on 23rd April, 2005); and, until her recent death on April 8th, Great Britain's first and only female Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher (1925–2013)—the dogmatic “Iron Lady”—(formerly Margaret Hilda Thatcher, who had been installed as Lady Companion of the Order on the 22nd of April, 1995). Also included among the list are Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands (a member and an 'Extra Lady of the Order' since the 28th of June, 1989); Princess Anne, the Princess Royal (inducted on April 23rd, 1994); and Princess Alexandra, Lady Ogilvy (appointed on April 23rd, 2003)—they are all included among the ranks of the Order of the Garter in their own right.

But as Sovereign of the Order of the Garter and fount of all honour, the Monarch also has the power and privilege to degrade members of the Order (for various crimes, including heresy, treason or cowardice)—just as he or she is able to bestow the honour. Nor are Knights exempt from the ultimate 'degradation': execution. The childhood friend of Henry V, Lord Scrope of Masham, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, for instance, is one such Knight who faced that fate; Lord Scrope was executed in 1521. Another, as has already been noted, is Charles I who wore his Order to face his own execution in 1649. (Source: The British Monarchy, 2009)

 Elizabeth II in Garter Robes
Above left portrait is by James Cliffe ~ 1971
(Williamson Art Gallery & Museum)
Above right portrait is by Pietro Annigoni ~ 1954–1955
(Jaguar Heritage)
Above left image, courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings | Above right image, courtesy of: BBC - Your Paintings
Although new appointments to the Order of the Garter are announced on Saint George's Day, the chivalric and formal installation ceremonies actually take place several weeks later—on Garter Day.
The annual Ceremony of the Order begins with a luncheon—which is held in the Waterloo Chamber and hosted by both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh—on Garter Day in June; that is, on the Monday of Royal Ascot week. (But even before the luncheon, the Queen formally invests any new Knight Companions with the insignia—(a broad riband worn over the shoulder, a Garter Star and the ornate gold collar)—at a Chapter of the Order in the Throne Room of Windsor Castle.) After lunch, the Knights—led by the Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle as well as by the Military Knights of Windsor—“process on foot to a service in St. George's Chapel, wearing their blue velvet robes, known as mantels, and black velvet hats with white plumes. The processional route is through the Upper, Middle and Lower Wards of the castle to St. George's Chapel(Quote: The British Monarchy, 2009).
On arrival at the Chapel, a brief afternoon service is held (attended by other members of the Royal Family—those who are included as Royal Knights and Lady Companions of the Order—which presently include the aforementioned Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales; Prince William of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge; Prince Andrew, the Duke of York; Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex; Princess Anne, the Princess Royal; Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester; Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, and his sister, Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy). Any new Knight Companions—if there happens to be any—are formally installed within their place in the quire at the beginning of the short service. At the end of the ceremony, the assembly emerges from the Great West Door of the Chapel; the Queen and other members of the Order return in carriages and cars to the Upper Ward of Windsor Castle. (Sources: College of St George - Windsor Castle, 2013; The British Monarchy, 2009; Debrett's, undated) 
Chivalric Orders in unchivalrous times: Is there a place for such strange rituals in today's world? What is the use of such Orders? What is the value of such things—if any? And overall, with the genteel niceties of everyday life so lamentably on the decline and, conversely, with aggression, crudity and unseemly behaviour on the rise (and rife) these days, is chivalry truly dead? At first glance, odd and archaic rituals, ceremonies, and insignia—limited to only a few individuals—may and do appear curiously out of place in such a fast-paced world. That said, it is precisely such traditions that, given the insecure state of the present day—with wars, rampant and senseless violence (and threats of random violence), and financial upheaval—offer a sense of permanence in a shifting and, at times, incomprehensible world. Pomp and circumstance—anomalous as they may seem to the modern eye and modern sense—are a link to forebears; by the very fact of their unbroken continuity, the ritualistic ceremonies and insignia of such Orders as those of the Garter connect the present with the distant, misty past. It is the solidity of traditions that, even though they may not offer concrete solutions to today's problems, they do lend a certain amount of comfort in uncertain, unstable times. More importantly, perhaps, it is the values of such Orders and what they stand for—so eloquently expressed in mottoes and legends—that act as reminders of the nobler elements of the human spirit and what that spirit is capable of achieving in ignoble times. Therein lies the value of such things.
The Garter Investment Badge or “Lesser George”
The badge (sometimes known as the Lesser George) hangs from the riband at the right hip, suspended from a small gold link (formerly, before Charles II introduced the broad riband, it was around the neck). Like the 'George,' it shows St. George slaying the dragon, but it is flatter and monochromatically gold. In the fifteenth century, the Lesser George was usually worn attached to a ribbon around the neck. As this was not convenient when riding a horse, the custom of wearing it under the right arm developed.
Source & quote: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense, undated | Image courtesy of: Sir Differel Van Helsing
Suggested readings:

Saint George: The Saint With Three Faces (1983), by David Scott Fox: The Kensal Press
Knights of the Crown: The Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe, 1325-1520 (1987), by D'Arcy Jonathan Dacre Boulton: Boydell Press
The Most Noble Order of the Garter: 650 Years (1999), by Peter J. Begent, Hubert Chesshyre, D. H. B. Chesshyre & Lisa Jefferson: Spink

The Order of the Garter, 1384-1461: Chivalry and Politics in Late Medieval England (2000), by Hugh E. L. Collins: Oxford University Press

St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in the Fourteenth Century (2005), edited by Nigel Saul: Boydell Press

A Complete Guide To Heraldry (2007), by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies: Skyhorse Publishing Inc.

The Orders of Knighthood and the Formation of the British Honours System, 1660-1760 (2008), by Antti Matikkala: Boydell & Brewer Ltd.
Memorials of the Order of the Garter, From Its Foundation to the Present Time (2010), by George Frederick Beltz: BiblioBazaar
Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (2012), by Stephanie Trigg: University of Pennsylvania Press