19 JUNE 2007

Just two days after the pomp and splendour of the Trooping the Colour parade, the Queen was celebrating yet another of her country's oldest traditions in splendid style at the Order of the Garter service in Windsor. Wearing the distinctive ostrich-plumed hat and ceremonial robes and accompanied by Prince Phillip, on Monday she joined the 25 Knights and Ladies of the oldest surviving order of chivalry in the world.

Over 5,000 royal well-wishers turned out to see the procession make its way down from the castle to St George's Chapel. Among those taking part were the monarch's sons Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, her daughter Princess Anne and the Duchess of Cornwall. All her children are members of the order, but Prince Edward was unable to attend this year. Former Prime Ministers Baroness Thatcher and John Major, both current members of the Order - a privilege bestowed personally by the Queen for outstanding public service and achievement - were among those attending the annual event.

There is currently one vacancy in the Order left by the death of another former Prime Minister, Edward Heath, but it has not yet been filled and no new Garter Knights were inducted. The Order of the Garter was established in 1348 by King Edward III and was said to be inspired by events at a ball he attended in France with Joan, Countess of Sailsbury.

It is believed that when the Countess dropped her garter - to much laughter - the king picked it up and wore it on his own leg, saying Honi soit qui mal y pense - "Shame on him who thinks this evil" - which remains the Order's motto today.

Photo: ©
Helped by two young pageboys, the Queen and her husband make their way to their carriage following the Order of the Garter service in St George's Chapel, WindsorPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
Camilla shares a ride with her sister-in-law Princess Anne, followed by a procession of the Yeomen of the Guard and Heralds of the Order of the GarterPhoto: © AFP