As they do each year on the day before the start of Royal Ascot, members of the British royal family and distinguished guests gathered at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, for the annual Garter Service. This service, which celebrates The Order of the Garter (the highest order of chivalry and one of the most prestigious honours in the United Kingdom awarded at the Sovereign’s pleasure as a personal gift) dates back to 1348 and remains a highlight on the royal calendar each year.
Members of the Garter wear elaborate robes and accessories for the Garter Service including a special hat. The hat, in the style of a Tudor bonnet, is made of black velvet and trimmed with a glorious plume of white ostrich and black heron feathers. Queen Elizabeth, who is Sovereign of the Garter, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is a Royal Knight of the Garter, and the Prince of Wales, who is Knight Companion of the Garter, all appeared today in the procession to St. George’s Chapel in this regalia and hat.
Princess Alexandra of Kent and the Duke of Kent
The Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex and the Prince of Wales
The Duke of Cambridge and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal
The Duke of Gloucester
Spouses of royal Garter members were also in attendance today. As seen above, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence wore a very handsome black antique silk hat. The Duchess of Cornwall repeated another one of her cream picture hats with wide, curving up-swept brims. This piece, in sparkling metallic straw, is trimmed with a large ruched band that circles around the perimeter of the hat. It’s a lovely piece, particularly with Camilla’s streamlined gold and cream jacket, but she has several hats in this shape she as worn in the past few weeks and I am more than ready to see something different.
The Countess of Wessex repeated her black velour cocktail hat with draped silk twisted bow. The hat coordinated beautifully with her other black accessories to provide the perfect contrast to her green silk dress. I adore this dress on Sophie and thought the hat was paired very well to it.
Designer: Jane Taylor. Dress by Suzannah.
Previously Worn: March 26, 2015
The Duchess of Gloucester repeated a grey straw beret hat. While I have oft’ mentioned my desire to remove the hat’s “stem”, this piece is well matched to Brigitte’s grey and blue dress and she wears it well.
It is always wonderful to see the British royals enjoying an event together and such seems to be the case today. One of my favourite parts of the Garter Service is that it heralds the coming of Royal Ascot, which starts tomorrow! Stay tuned early Tuesday morning for a review of the hats seen at the first day of the races.
Photos from Splash News via Corbis and Getty as indicated