Organization founded by Edward III of England in the 14th century. Legend says that a noblewoman was dancing at a ball he was attending and her garter fell off. When it was seen lying on the floor, people laughed and its owner was embarrassed, so Edward decided to create an organization where a garter would be a high honor. He succeeded; the Order of the Garter is still one of the highest honors in England, and its motto is "Honi soit qui mal y pense," which translates to something like "Shame be to the one who thinks evil of this."

The full title of this ancient organization is "The Most Noble Order of the Garter". It was founded in 1348 by Edward III, who intended it to be given to someone who had shown loyalty and military merit. Initially the members of the order consisted of 25 Knights who had served in the French campaigns alongside Edward, primarily those at the Battle of Crécy, but also including three foreigners who had previously sworn allegiance to the English king. In recognition of this the Order's membership is still restricted to 26, one of which is always the ruling monarch

The symbol of the Order is a blue garter, which is said to have been arrived according to the legend mentioned by Segnbora-t (the 'noblewoman' was supposedly Joan, Countess of Salisbury), other accounts claim it has developed over time from the leather straps used to hold armour in place. Attatched to the garter was a badge depicting St. George, the Orders' patron saint, fighting with the dragon. Over the centuries a collar was added, and in the 17th century, a riband and star was included in the official regalia.

Membership of the Order is by the choice of the ruling monarch, although this did change for a number of years to being the decision of parliament between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries. Appointments to the Order are announced on the 23rd April (St. Georges Day), and the investiture ceremony takes place in St. Georges Chapel in Windsor at the time of the annual gathering of the Knights of the Garter in June.

In recognition of the original members of the Order there are still a number of foreign 'Stranger Knights', currently including the kings of Spain and Sweden and the emperor of Japan.

The current list of holders (there is one vacancy for anyone here who wants to apply):

The Earl of LONGFORD, KG
The Marquess of ABERGAVENNY, KG, OBE
The Duke of GRAFTON, KG
The Duke of NORFOLK, KG, GCVO, CB, CBE, MC
Lord RICHARDSON OF DUNTISBOURNE, KG, MBE, TD
Lord CARRINGTON, KG, GCMG, CH, MC
Lord CALLAGHAN OF CARDIFF, KG
Viscount LEVERHULME, KG, TD
Lord HAILSHAM OF ST. MARYLEBONE, KG, CH, FRS
The Duke of WELLINGTON, KG, LVO, OBE, MC
Field Marshal the Lord BRAMALL, KG, GCB, OBE, MC
Sir Edward Richard George HEATH, KG, MBE
Viscount RIDLEY, KG, GCVO, TD
Lord SAINSBURY OF PRESTON CANDOVER, KG
Lord ASHBURTON, KG, KCVO
Lord KINGSDOWN, KG
Sir Ninian Martin STEPHEN KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, QC
Lady THATCHER, LG, OM, FRS
Sir Edmund Percival HILLARY, KG, ONZ, KBE
The Duke of DEVONSHIRE, KG, MC
Sir Timothy James Alan COLMAN, KG
The Duke of ABERCORN, KG
Sir (Erskine) William GLADSTONE, Bt, KG

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