Posted by: Barbara Page-Hanify   in Meetings, News from Other Organizations

 On October 23rd six Ricardians accepted the invitation of Heraldry Australia to hear Professor Stephanie Trigg of Melbourne University talk about eminent women who became members of the Order of the Garter.   It was an interesting subject covering the Order, its establishment, robes, and ladies past and presently companions of the Order, which is the premier honours system in the UK.


Garter Insignia

Stephanie explored the various legends surrounding the founding of the Order by Edward III – probably in 1344 – but it seems the most likely is that generally told that the king wished to shame those who would mock the Countess of Salisbury when she lost her garter on the dance floor – though it is questioned whether ladies wore garters at that time.  Hence the motto of this order of chivalry “Honi soit qui mal y pense” – “Evil be to him who evil thinks.”  It is uncertain whether the Queen was present at the dance, and her feelings about the response …

Originally exclusively for men, who were made “Companions”, soon royal ladies were also made “Ladies of the Garter”, but not Companions.  Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII was the last of these (1488) before her son Henry Tudor stopped the practice.  The next Lady of the Garter was Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII in 1901.

In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II made it possible to install  “Ladies Companion of the Garter”.  These now include HRH Princess Anne, HRH Princess Alexandra, Baroness Thatcher and Baroness Soames, a granddaughter of Winston Churchill.   To remove political patronage, the Sovereign alone now makes the choice of new Companions, who continue to number 24.

Barbara Page-Hanify
A member from Queensland


Barbara did an additional search of Ladies of the Garter that revealed several names that Ricardians will recognize.

Among them were:  Jacqueline, Duchess of Bedford (1436);  Margaret of Anjou, Queen-Consort to Henry VI (1448);  Elizabeth Wydville, Queen-Consort of Edward IV, 1477;  Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, later Queen-Consort of Henry VII, 1477;  Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk, 1477;  Cecily of York and Mary of York, daughters of Edward IV, 1480. 

Remarkably Anne Neville, Queen-Consort of Richard III, does not appear on the list.

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