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Order of the Garter

Order of the Garter
Arms of the Order of the Garter
TitleOrder of the Garter
CaptionArms of the Order of the Garter
Awarded Bythe Sovereign of the United Kingdom
ForAt the monarch's pleasure
StatusCurrently constituted
Head TitleSovereign
HeadHM The Queen
ChancellorLord Carrington
Royal Knight/Lady
Stranger Knight/Lady
Date1348 (see History)
HigherEldest sons of Barons
LowerOrder of the Thistle
Caption2Riband of the Order of the Garter

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The Most Noble Order of the Garter is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England, founded in 1348. The Order is dedicated to the image and arms of St. George as England's patron saint, and is presently bestowed on recipients from British and other Commonwealth realms; after peerages, it is the pinnacle of the honours system in the United Kingdom. Membership in the order is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than twenty-four members, or Companions; the order also comprises Supernumerary knights and ladies (e.g., members of the British Royal Family and foreign monarchs). Bestowing the honour has been described as one of the Monarch's few remaining truly personal, executive prerogatives.

The order's emblem, depicted on insignia, is a garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (Old French: "shame upon him who thinks evil upon it", or "evil to him who evil thinks") in gold lettering. Members of the order wear such a garter on ceremonial occasions.

Most British honours encompass the whole United Kingdom, but the top most three each pertain to one constituent nation. The Order of the Garter, pertaining to England and Wales, is senior in age and precedence; The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle pertains to Scotland; and the now-dormant The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick pertains to Ireland. New appointments to the Order of the Garter are always announced on St George's Day, 23 April, as Saint George is the patron saint of England.

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