The Queen makes kings of Spain and Netherlands Knights of the Garter

The Duchess of Cambridge led a dazzling line up of European royals at the annual Order of the Garter service today.

Elegant in a white Catherine Walker coat dress, Kate, 37, was joined by Queen Letizia of Spain, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex at the Windsor Castle ceremony this afternoon. 

Letizia, who wore a £250 dress by Spanish label Cherubina, and Maxima, who was a vision in head-to-toe blush, were on hand to support their husbands, King Felipe VI of Spain and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, as they were officially invested by the Queen as Supernumerary, or ‘Stranger’, Knights of the Garter. 

Felipe was appointed by the Queen during his July 2017 State Visit while Willem-Alexander received the honour during his State Visit in October 2018. Today’s ceremony cements their awards at one of the grandest events on the Royal calendar. 

But while the day is technically about their husbands, the royal women assured all eyes were on them by pulling out all the stops in an array of stylish outfits. 

The engagement also marks just the second time the Duchess of Cambridge has been seen publicly with Letizia of Spain, following the Spanish State Visit. She spent time with Maxima during the Dutch State Visit last year.  

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Polished perfection! (Left to right) Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Queen Letizia of Spain, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the Duchess of Cambridge formed a dazzling line-up at Order of the Garter in Windsor today

Polished perfection! (Left to right) Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Queen Letizia of Spain, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the Duchess of Cambridge formed a dazzling line-up at Order of the Garter in Windsor today

Polished perfection! (Left to right) Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Queen Letizia of Spain, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the Duchess of Cambridge formed a dazzling line-up at Order of the Garter in Windsor today 

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to Queen Letizia of Spain and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Order of the Garter service

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to Queen Letizia of Spain and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Order of the Garter service

Kate, elegant in a Catherine Walker coat, shares a light-hearted moment with Camilla at the event

Kate, elegant in a Catherine Walker coat, shares a light-hearted moment with Camilla at the event

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to Queen Letizia of Spain and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Order of the Garter service, left. Pictured right, visiting royal Letizia is entertained by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, outside St George’s Chapel 

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Today’s Order of the Garter ceremony is a right Royal affair.

Between Queen Letizia of Spain in Cherubina, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands wearing Claes Iversen and the Countess of Wessex choosing a chic Suzannah skirt, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion inspiration!

But of course, the Duchess of Cambridge will always be our favourite, and she looked as sophisticated as ever in her white coat dress.

It’s the ‘Liza’ style by Catherine Walker, and we love the contrast black lace detailing around the collar and in curved panels to create almost a peplum effect. Add in a pair of cut out Prada heels, a Lock & Co hat and Princess Diana’s pearl earrings and it’s classic Kate.

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Queen Elizabeth II, centre, today formally bestowed the honour of Supernumerary Knight of the Garter upon King Felipe of Spain, left, at Windsor castle. The title grants honorary membership of the Order of the Garter and is bestowed upon foreign royals. King Felipe was accompanied by his wife, Queen Letizia, right

Queen Elizabeth II, centre, today formally bestowed the honour of Supernumerary Knight of the Garter upon King Felipe of Spain, left, at Windsor castle. The title grants honorary membership of the Order of the Garter and is bestowed upon foreign royals. King Felipe was accompanied by his wife, Queen Letizia, right

Queen Elizabeth II, centre, today formally bestowed the honour of Supernumerary Knight of the Garter upon King Felipe of Spain, left, at Windsor castle. The title grants honorary membership of the Order of the Garter and is bestowed upon foreign royals. King Felipe was accompanied by his wife, Queen Letizia, right

Also given the title of Supernumerary Knight, or 'Stranger' Knight, was King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, pictured with The Queen and his wife Queen Maxima at Windsor Castle. Both foreign kings were granted the titles previously after state visits in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and today have officially been invested with the Order

Also given the title of Supernumerary Knight, or 'Stranger' Knight, was King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, pictured with The Queen and his wife Queen Maxima at Windsor Castle. Both foreign kings were granted the titles previously after state visits in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and today have officially been invested with the Order

Also given the title of Supernumerary Knight, or ‘Stranger’ Knight, was King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, pictured with The Queen and his wife Queen Maxima at Windsor Castle. Both foreign kings were granted the titles previously after state visits in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and today have officially been invested with the Order 

The Duchess of Cambridge appeared to be enjoying herself with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

The Duchess of Cambridge appeared to be enjoying herself with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

Kate speaks to Maxima, who wore a Dutch creation

Kate speaks to Maxima, who wore a Dutch creation

The Duchess of Cambridge appeared to be enjoying herself with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands as they chatted outside St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The women last met during the Dutch State Visit to the UK last year

The Queen beamed as she waved to well-wishers from the back of an open-top carriage through Windsor Castle today

The Queen beamed as she waved to well-wishers from the back of an open-top carriage through Windsor Castle today

The Queen beamed as she waved to well-wishers from the back of an open-top carriage through Windsor Castle today

The Duke of Cambridge marched alongside his father ahead of the service

The Duke of Cambridge marched alongside his father ahead of the service

Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge arrive for the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle today

Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge arrive for the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle today

The Duke of Cambridge, left, marched alongside his father Prince Charles (right together) ahead of the service today

Princess  Anne, is followed by Prince Andrew (left), Prince Edward (right), King Felipe of Spain (behind, left) and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (behind, right) as they march before the Order of the Garter service at St George's Chapel

Princess  Anne, is followed by Prince Andrew (left), Prince Edward (right), King Felipe of Spain (behind, left) and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (behind, right) as they march before the Order of the Garter service at St George's Chapel

Princess  Anne, is followed by Prince Andrew (left), Prince Edward (right), King Felipe of Spain (behind, left) and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (behind, right) as they march before the Order of the Garter service at St George’s Chapel

Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Windsor to see the royal procession to St George's Chapel, left, this afternoon

Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Windsor to see the royal procession to St George's Chapel, left, this afternoon

Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Windsor to see the royal procession to St George’s Chapel, left, this afternoon

The Order of the Garter is a a 700-year tradition founded by Edward III in 1348, and recognises contributions of great public service from those honoured – usually Lords and Ladies of the UK.

Although the Order has a limit of 24 members, excluding The Queen and Prince Charles, foreign royals have been given honorary ‘Stranger Knight’ status since 1813, with controversial recipients over the years including Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany before World War I. 

Two official appointments made today are Lady Companion, Lady Mary Peters, and Knight Companion, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil the Marquess of Salisbury, who are both being invested with the Order’s insignia by The Queen at Windsor Castle. 

Hundreds of people have lined the streets to see a procession led by The Queen and members of the Garter to Windsor Castle for a service at St George’s Chapel. 

Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the Sovereign to honour those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally.

Lady Mary is a former Lord Lieutenant of Belfast while the Marquess of Salisbury is a former leader of the House of Lords. 








While the day is technically about their husbands taking part in the service, the royal women ensured all eyes remained on them by pulling out all the style stops. Left to right: Sophie Wessex, Letizia of Spain, Camilla, Maxima of the Netherlands, Kate

While the day is technically about their husbands taking part in the service, the royal women ensured all eyes remained on them by pulling out all the style stops. Left to right: Sophie Wessex, Letizia of Spain, Camilla, Maxima of the Netherlands, Kate

While the day is technically about their husbands taking part in the service, the royal women ensured all eyes remained on them by pulling out all the style stops. Left to right: Sophie Wessex, Letizia of Spain, Camilla, Maxima of the Netherlands, Kate

Queen Letizia of Spain finished her look with a black veil that draped elegantly over her eyes

Queen Letizia of Spain finished her look with a black veil that draped elegantly over her eyes

The Duchess of Cambridge brought out her favourite Lock & Co 'Lion Tamer' hat in Windsor

The Duchess of Cambridge brought out her favourite Lock & Co 'Lion Tamer' hat in Windsor

Queen Letizia of Spain finished her look with a black veil that draped elegantly over her eyes, bringing a touch of mystique to the ensemble. Pictured right, the Duchess of Cambridge brought out her favourite Lock & Co ‘Lion Tamer’ hat in Windsor

The royal women all respected the dress code by donning a hat for the formal event at St George's Chapel, Windsor, today

The royal women all respected the dress code by donning a hat for the formal event at St George's Chapel, Windsor, today

The royal women all respected the dress code by donning a hat for the formal event at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, today

A fan of bright colours, Maxima opted for something different today and donned head-to-toe blush for the Windsor event

A fan of bright colours, Maxima opted for something different today and donned head-to-toe blush for the Windsor event

The Dutch queen took photos inside without a hat but added one as she joined the royals outside

The Dutch queen took photos inside without a hat but added one as she joined the royals outside

A fan of bright colours, Maxima opted for something different today and donned head-to-toe blush for the Windsor event

The royal women injected their individual personalities into their outfits but all kept to a similar colour palette of pinks, black and white. They were all on hand to support their husbands at the high profile Order of the Garter service this afternoon

The royal women injected their individual personalities into their outfits but all kept to a similar colour palette of pinks, black and white. They were all on hand to support their husbands at the high profile Order of the Garter service this afternoon

The royal women injected their individual personalities into their outfits but all kept to a similar colour palette of pinks, black and white. They were all on hand to support their husbands at the high profile Order of the Garter service this afternoon

Letizia of Spain was typically chic in a black and white ensemble for the outing

Letizia of Spain was typically chic in a black and white ensemble for the outing

Camilla, Maxima and Kate appeared in good spirits as they chatted outside St George's Chapel, Windsor

Camilla, Maxima and Kate appeared in good spirits as they chatted outside St George's Chapel, Windsor

Letizia of Spain was typically chic in a black and white dress, which she accessorised with a black clutch and a hat with a black veil. Pictured right, Camilla, Maxima and Kate appeared in good spirits as they chatted outside St George’s Chapel, Windsor

Stranger Knights is a second order bestowed upon foreign royals, with the title not counting towards the official limit of 24 members. The last time a foreign monarch was invested was King Harald of Norway in 2001, with royals often keeping the honour during their reign and then the title being passed on to their successor. 

Another order of ‘extra’ members who are not part of the official limit are the Royal Knights and Ladies, which includes Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Prince Charles, the Princess Royal and Prince William.

Prince Harry is not a member of this group yet, with experts previously noting William was handed the honour at a young age most likely due to his place in the line of succession.

The Queen’s sons Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were not invested as Royal Knights until they were 40 meaning Harry, 34, may face waiting a few more years before he can attend.

Prince Philip, who effectively retired from official public duties last August, did not attend today’s ceremony. He last took part in 2016, after the Queen was forced to cancel the 2017 Order of the Garter for the first time since 1984 because a snap General Election meant it clashed with the State Opening of Parliament.

Lady Mary and the Marquess of Salisbury’s appointments brings the current number of members to 23, leaving one vacancy. 

Foreign royals have been receiving Stranger Knight status since 1813, when Emperor Alexander I of Russia was invested with Order status.

Other foreign royals who are currently Stranger Knights are Queen Margrethe of Denmark, King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, former King Juan Carlos of Spain, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Harald of Norway and former Emperor Akihito of Japan.

During the First World War, two Royal Knights and six Stranger Knights, all monarchs or princes of enemy nations and including Kaiser Wilhelm II, German Emperor, and Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, were struck off the roll of the Order or had their appointments annulled in 1915. 

Queen Letizia of Spain was pictured in conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall, right, at the service in Windsor as several senior Royals turned out in their finery for the occasion

Queen Letizia of Spain was pictured in conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall, right, at the service in Windsor as several senior Royals turned out in their finery for the occasion

Queen Letizia of Spain was pictured in conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall, right, at the service in Windsor as several senior Royals turned out in their finery for the occasion

Emperor Hirohito of Japan was also removed from the Order during World War II in 1941, but it was restored to his great pleasure after he made a state visit to the UK in 1971, 26 years after the country was defeated by the Allies  

The Queen and Prince Charles, as sovereign and heir, are automatically given membership of the Order and are considered ‘ex officio knights’ with the power to admit new members.

The Garter is open to British and Commonwealth citizens, with former Prime Minister Sir John Major and Lord Sainsbury numbered among the current members.

Field Marshall, the Lord Bramall, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, the Duke of Abercorn, the Duke of Westminster and Baroness Manningham-Buller, the former Director-General of MI5, are also Knights of the Garter. 

The appointment of Knights of the Garter is in the Queen’s gift and is made without consulting ministers.

Recipients of the honour are chosen because they have held public office, contributed to national life or served the sovereign personally.

Other members of the order include Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, a past president of the Supreme Court, and Admiral Lord Boyce, a former head of the UK’s armed forces.








Hundreds of people lined the streets of Windsor today, pictured, to watch a procession through the streets with the Household Cavalry marching to the castle ahead of a service at St George's Chapel

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Windsor today, pictured, to watch a procession through the streets with the Household Cavalry marching to the castle ahead of a service at St George's Chapel

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Windsor today, pictured, to watch a procession through the streets with the Household Cavalry marching to the castle ahead of a service at St George’s Chapel

The Household Cavalry Guards were dressed in their finest and holding their ceremonial swords as they led a procession through the streets of Windsor, pictured

The Household Cavalry Guards were dressed in their finest and holding their ceremonial swords as they led a procession through the streets of Windsor, pictured

The Household Cavalry Guards were dressed in their finest and holding their ceremonial swords as they led a procession through the streets of Windsor, pictured

The Order of the Garter is a 700-year-old tradition started by King Edward III as a group of 'honourable knights' inspired by the legend of King Arthur. Today its 24 members - usually Lords and Ladies, are recognised for their services to the public. Pictured is the Household Cavalry marching in Windsor

The Order of the Garter is a 700-year-old tradition started by King Edward III as a group of 'honourable knights' inspired by the legend of King Arthur. Today its 24 members - usually Lords and Ladies, are recognised for their services to the public. Pictured is the Household Cavalry marching in Windsor

The Order of the Garter is a 700-year-old tradition started by King Edward III as a group of ‘honourable knights’ inspired by the legend of King Arthur. Today its 24 members – usually Lords and Ladies, are recognised for their services to the public. Pictured is the Household Cavalry marching in Windsor

What is the Order of the Garter? How King Edward III was so inspired by tales of King Arthur he set up his own group of knights almost 700 years ago

In medieval times, King Edward III was so inspired by tales of King Arthur and the chivalry of the Knights of the Round Table that he set up his own group of honourable knights, called the Order of the Garter.

Nearly 700 years later, the Order is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain. The Knights, now both male and female, used to be limited to aristocracy, but today they are chosen from a variety of backgrounds, in recognition for their public service.

The patron saint of the Order is St George (patron saint of soldiers and also of England) and if there are vacancies in the Order, appointments are announced on St George’s Day (23 April).

The Queen can name members of the Order of The Garter without any approval of ministers and recognises those who have carried out great service to the public

The Queen can name members of the Order of The Garter without any approval of ministers and recognises those who have carried out great service to the public

Prince Charles, left, is an automatic member of the Order, while Prince William, right, is a Royal Knight, which is an 'extra' title under the order that is reserved for members of the Royal Family and does not count towards the limit

Prince Charles, left, is an automatic member of the Order, while Prince William, right, is a Royal Knight, which is an 'extra' title under the order that is reserved for members of the Royal Family and does not count towards the limit

The Order of the Garter is a 700-year-old tradition which recognises great public service. Membership is limited to a maximum of 24 and is usually Lords and Ladies with The Queen, left in 2018, naming members as she sees fit. An ‘extra’ group of members who do not count towards the official limit are Royal Knights, including Prince William, far right last year, while Prince Charles, second right in 2018, is an automatic member as first in line to the throne

The spiritual home of the Order is St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Every knight is required to display a banner of his arms in the Chapel, together with a helmet, crest and sword and an enamelled stallplate.

These ‘achievements’ are taken down on the knight’s death and the insignia are returned to the Sovereign. The stallplates remain as a memorial and these now form one of the finest collections of heraldry in the world.

Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the Sovereign to honour those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally.

As sovereign and heir, The Queen and Prince Charles are automatically given membership of the Order and are considered ‘ex officio knights’. The Prince of Wales is known as a Royal Knight Companion of the Garter.

The sovereign, known as the Sovereign of the Garter, is the only one with the power to admit new members.

The Garter is open to British and Commonwealth citizens. Notable former members include Sir Winston Churchill, Stanley Baldwin and Sir Edmund Hillary.

Field Marshall, the Lord Bramall, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, the Duke of Abercorn, the Duke of Westminster and Baroness Manningham-Buller, the former Director-General of MI5, are among the current Knights and Ladies of the Garter.

There are also two orders of ‘extra’ knights. Members of the Royal Knights and Ladies include Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Prince Charles, the Princess Royal and Prince William.

A second order, the Stranger Knights and Ladies, is bestowed on foreign rulers such as Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Harald V of Norway.

Although new additions are named on St. George’s Day, the 23 April, the initiation ceremony takes place in Junmantle during the traditional Garter Procession, which sees members parade through Windsor.

The annual iconic Garter Day procession, where The Queen and the Knights process in grand velvet robes, glistening insignia and plumed hats, is one of the most traditional ceremonies in the Queen’s calendar.

Every June, a grand procession of the knights takes place at Windsor Castle, accompanied by a marching band and Officers of the Order, all in grand ceremonial dress.

The day begins with The Queen formally investing any new Companions with the Order’s insignia in the Throne Room of the Castle. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh entertain the members and officers at a lunch, and then all process on foot to a service in St. George’s Chapel.

There is a short service where any new Companions are installed. The Sovereign and other members of the Order then return to the Upper Ward of the castle in carriages and cars.

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