18 JUNE 2002
Monarchs from across Europe converged on Windsor Castle on Monday for the annual Order of the Garter ceremony and a gala lunch and dinner hosted by the Queen amid the celebrations for her Golden Jubilee.
This was the biggest gathering of members of Europe’s royal families since the Queen Mother’s funeral in April. In attendance were the king and queens from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Spain. The Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg also made the journey and among the representatives of the British Royal Family were the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Princess Royal.
The day began with the annual Order of the Garter service – one of the grandest of pageants celebrating the oldest order of chivalry – in which the Queen honoured her second cousin, King Harald of Norway, in a rite that represents the pinnacle of British pomp and pageantry. Medieval costumes and ceremonial splendour were the order of the day for the ceremony, which was founded by King Edward III in 1348 to reward loyalty and military merit.
Every year, the Most Noble Order of the Garter is given personally by the Queen to a total of 24 British people, plus members of foreign royalty who in previous years have included Queen Beatrix of Holland, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg. Oxford-educated Harald, 65, was presented with the insignia of the Order at a private ceremony in Oslo during the Queen’s state visit to Norway last year, but was still entitled to be installed with his knighthood in the ancient chapel of the Order.
Accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal, King Harald walked in the afternoon procession to and from St George’s Chapel in one of the most colourful ceremonies of the royal calendar. Members of the Order were garbed in the traditional robes of blue velvet mantle, red velvet hood, black velvet hat and white ostrich plumes. Following a 45-minute service, the Norwegian King was formally appointed to a seat in the chapel and his banner installed, where it will remain until his death.
After the Garter ceremony, the assembled royals were invited to a formal banquet held in Windsor Castle’s richly decorated Waterloo Chamber, where they dined on brill and lobster roulade, baby chicken with asparagus, and a peach desert. Accompanying the feast were a selection of wines, including a Krug 1985 and Fonseca 1970.
On Tuesday, the Queen and some of the European royals are expected to attend Royal Ascot races, which has been extended by a day to mark the Golden Jubilee and therefore continues until Saturday.