I had an unexpected birthday treat from my daughter. She managed to get tickets in the ballot to attend the Garter Day ceremony at Windsor Castle.
The Most Noble Order of the Garter is the oldest British Order of Chivalry, founded by King Edward III in 1348. It consists of the Sovereign and twenty-five Knights, chosen personally by the Sovereign, who are people who have held public office, have contributed to public life or have served the Queen personally.
Every June they gather at Windsor Castle. Any new Knights take the oath and are invested with the insignia. (There was one this year, Air Chief Marshal The Lord Stirrup, who I think took the late Margaret Thatcher's place in the Order.) They have lunch together in the State Apartments and then process down through the castle grounds to St George's Chapel for a service of dedication. Afterwards they are driven back up through the Castle in a carriage procession.
It is British ceremonial at its best - lots of troops and marching bands, beautiful horses, robes and uniforms, ancient traditions and lots of Royals, both major and minor.
We were allotted a position right up at the top of the Castle, on the edge of the Upper Ward beside the Round Tower, from where we could see all the comings and goings, and the start and end of the processionals. (If we'd been further down we might have seen the procession for longer as it wound its way down, but wherever you were placed you gained in some ways and lost in others.) As it was, there was a lot of good-natured waiting around (picnicking!) and a few moments of frantic camera clicking. But it was all very interesting and, since I love all the pomp and tradition, it was a great day out.
The gentlemen in my photo are members of The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard, who formed part of the procession, seen marching through the arched entrance to the State Apartments.
|Windsor Castle from the Air. |
(Mark S Jobling, reproduced under Creative Commons license)