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Robin Anderson, age 16, of Cumberland, Md., for her question:

WHAT IS THE ORDER OF THE GARTER?

The Order of the Garter is the highest and perhaps the oldest order of knighthood in Great Britain.

An old story tells that while King Edward III of England was dancing with the Countess of Salisbury at a gala court party, she lost her garter. As the King picked it up to hand it to her, he saw several people smile and make remarks.

"Evil be to him who evil thinks," the King said in French as he became angry. Then he added that he would make the garter "so glorious that everyone would wish to wear it."

Whether the story is true or not, King Edward did indeed found the order in 1349. Only 25 members besides the king were first admitted.

The emblem of the order is a dark blue garter edged in gold, on which are printed the words the king spoke. On all ceremonial occasions, the garter is worn on the left leg just below the knee.

The order was recognized in 1831 and the membership was increased to include the Prince of Wales, descendants of George I and some foreign rulers.

 

Category: Article series 1990

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