Started by Edward III in 1348, the Most Noble Order of the Garter is the oldest order of chivalry in Britain. It is the most senior order, with members personally chosen by the sovereign and limited to just 24 knights, plus additional royal knights and ladies (both from the British royal family and selected foreign sovereigns), making it quite an exclusive club.
Garter Day at Windsor Castle starts with the Queen investing any new Companions with their insignia (appointments, if there are any, are announced on St. George's Day, April 23) followed by lunch. They then walk to St. George's Chapel in an impressive procession for a service, and return afterwards via car and carriage. They are outfitted in their full Garter gear for the occasion, including the Mantle, Bonnet, Collar and Great George - this is usually the only time in the year when we see the mantle and bonnet in use.
The Queen also wears formal evening jewelry for the event. Bracelets and evening watches are present, though they are hard to see thanks to the mantle (ditto for any necklaces, which if present are covered). But earrings are allowed to shine bright, and those are the focus of our jewel flashback.
- Queen Victoria's Pearl Drop Earrings (1954, 1967, 1997, 2000)
- Coronation Earrings (1960, 1996, 2001, 2004)
- Queen Mary's Ruby Cluster Earrings (1972,1989)
- Queen Alexandra's Wedding Parure Earrings (1982, 1983)
- Queen Mary's Floret Earrings (1985, 2006)
- Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings (1994, 1998)
- Ladies of Devonshire Earrings (1995, 1999, 2002)
- Antique Girandole Earrings (2003)
- Queen Mary's Diamond Collet Earrings (possible) (2005)
Garter Day In Depth
Photos: PA/Getty Images/Corbis/Reuters