King Willem-Alexander is in London on Monday to be invested as a Knight of the Garter. British Queen Elizabeth appointed him to the Order of the Garter during his state visit to the United Kingdom last year. In the St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle on Monday, a garter belt will be placed on the Dutch King’s left leg, NOS reports.
No one is quite sure why this order is named after a garter, Paul Rem, curator of Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn, said to the broadcaster. King Edward III founded the order in 1348. According to Rem, the story goes that the king was in love with a married woman, the Countess of Salisbury. When she lost her garter at a ball, the King picked it up and gave it back to her. “He said ‘woe to the person who thinks badly of this’, because he was afraid of gossip”, Rem explained. At that time, the English court spoke French. The French term Honi soit qui mal y pense is still the motto of the Order of the Garter, which is now headed by Queen Elizabeth.
In addition to the members of the British royal family, the order includes 24 kings and ladies, appointed to the order for their merits in the public interest. There are also “additional” knights, including foreign heads of state. All Willem-Alexander’s predecessors belonged to the order. According to Rem, it is therefore not strange that the King was appointed to the order, because his status gets him in more or less “automatically”.
The appointment ceremony will happen at around 3:30 p.m. Dutch time. All members of the order will attend in full dress for the installation of the new knights and ladies.