Elevation of Lord Jock Stirrup a snub to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
Air Chief Marshal joins the Order of the Garter, whose members usually include former PMs
The venerable Air Chief Marshal Graham “Jock” Stirrup is not short of honours but adding the title of Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter is a feather in anyone’s cap. Of all the weird and ancient orders in England’s old heraldic system, there is none more prestigious than the Order of the Garter, whose numbers are strictly limited.
These days the mysterious order involves little more in practice than an annual invitation to lunch in the Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle on St George’s Day, after any new knights have taken the oath.
Given that its membership is decided by the Queen herself, however, outsiders may still have cause to be jealous. Lord Stirrup’s elevation was an implied snub to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. While every Prime Minister from Winston Churchill to John Major was admitted to the Order, the two most recent former PMs have been passed over.
It was not meant to be open to civilians; in the beginning, it was all about prowess in war. The Order was founded during the Hundred Years’ War, when the army of King Edward III defeated a larger French force at the Battle of Crécy in 1346. The King founded the order two years later for those considered to have shown exceptional valour in battle – consisting of himself and 24 knights.
The original line-up was all male, with full female membership allowed only in 1987, and there is currently one woman among the full members – Winston Churchill’s daughter, Lady Soames. Currently, the doyen of the Order is the 93-year-old former Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington. Other members are an odd assortment of hereditary peers, such as the Duke of Wellington, hereditary business leaders, such as Sir Timothy Colman, whose family gave its name to Colman’s mustard, as well as two Field Marshals, a former Sea Lord, a former Cabinet Secretary, one former Labour MP, John Morris, who was Welsh Secretary in the 1970s, and one former Tory PM, John Major.
But why “the Garter”? It is possible that it refers to leather straps used to fasten armour. There is, however, an old story that may be apocryphal: one day a lady was dancing at court when her garter came loose. The King gallantly retrieved the garter and tied it to his own leg, declaring “Honi soit qui mal y pense’ – meaning “shame on he who thinks evil” – which is now the motto of the Order.
There’s nothing like old-fashioned chivalry when garters are involved.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 1 NHS boss apologises for tweeting Hitler video mocking Government health database scheme
- 2 Sir Patrick Stewart patches into David Cameron and Barack Obama's Ukraine talks with packet of wet wipes
- 3 Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
£1200 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is one of Europes leading mobi...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Founded in 2008 by two Chinese tech entre...
£12000 - £18000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a high-end niche t...
£22000 - £25000 per annum, Benefits: Subsidised gym membership, 25 days holiday...