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.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence's own witness contradicts athlete's version of events
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
Almost 40m gallons of drinking water discarded – because a man urinated in it
Peaches Geldof funeral: Private ceremony to be held at same place as her mother Paula Yates on Easter Monday
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...