The MOST ANCIENT AND MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE THISTLE is an order of
chivalry associated with
The Order's primary emblem is the thistle , the national flower of
Scotland. The motto is
Nemo me impune lacessit (
Most British orders of chivalry cover the whole
* 1 History
* 1.1 Founder knights (restored order)
* 2 Composition * 3 Habit and insignia * 4 Chapel * 5 Precedence and privileges * 6 Current members and officers * 7 Notes * 8 See also * 9 Notes
* 10 References
* 10.1 Printed * 10.2 Web
James VII claimed that he was reviving an earlier Order, but this issue is marked by widely varying claims.
According to legend, Achaius , King of Scots (possibly coming to the
aid of Óengus mac Fergusa ,
King of the Picts ), while engaged in
Athelstaneford with the Saxon King Æthelstan of East Anglia
, saw in the heavens the cross of
St Andrew . After he won the
battle, Achaius is said to have established the Order of the Thistle,
dedicating it to the saint, in 786. The tale is not credible, because
the two individuals purported to have fought each other did not even
live in the same century. Another story states that Achaius founded
the Order in 809 to commemorate an alliance with the Emperor
The earliest claim now taken seriously by historians is that James III , who adopted the thistle as the royal plant badge and issued coins depicting thistles, founded the Order during the fifteenth century. He allegedly conferred membership of the "Order of the Burr or Thissil" on King Francis I of France .
However, there is no conclusive evidence for a fifteenth-century order. A French commentator writing in 1558 described the use of the crowned thistle and the cross of St Andrew on Scottish coins and war banners, and added that there was no Scottish order of knighthood. Similarly, John Lesley writing around 1578, refers to the three foreign orders of chivalry carved on the gate of James V's Linlithgow Palace with his ornaments of St Andrew, proper to this nation. Some Scottish order of chivalry may have existed during the sixteenth century, possibly founded by James V and called the Order of St. Andrew, but lapsed by the end of that century.
James VII issued letters patent "reviving and restoring the Order of
Kings of Scots —later the
Kings of Great Britain and of the
United Kingdom—have served as Sovereigns of the Order. When James
VII revived the Order, the statutes stated that the Order would
continue the ancient number of Knights, which was described in the
preceding warrant as "the Sovereign and twelve Knights-Brethren in
allusion to the Blessed Saviour and his
Twelve Apostles ". In 1827,
George IV augmented the Order to sixteen members. Women (other than
Queens regnant ) were originally excluded from the Order; George VI
created his wife Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon a Lady of the
From time to time, individuals may be admitted to the Order by
special statutes. Such members are known as "Extra Knights" and do not
count towards the sixteen-member limit. Members of the British Royal
Family are normally admitted through this procedure; the first to be
so admitted was Prince Albert . King
Olav V of Norway
The Sovereign has historically had the power to choose Knights of the
Order. From the eighteenth century onwards, the Sovereign made his or
her choices upon the advice of the Government.
Knights and Ladies of the
The Order has five officers: the Dean , the Chancellor , the Usher ,
Lord Lyon King of Arms and the Secretary. The Dean is normally a
cleric of the Church of
HABIT AND INSIGNIA
For the Order's great occasions, such as its annual service each June or July, as well for coronations , the Knights and Ladies wear an elaborate costume:
* The mantle is a green robe worn over their suits or military uniforms. The mantle is lined with white taffeta; it is tied with green and gold tassels. On the left shoulder of the mantle, the star of the Order (see below) is depicted. * The hat is made of black velvet and is plumed with white feathers with a black egret or heron's top in the middle. * The collar is made of gold and depicts thistles and sprigs of rue . It is worn over the mantle. * The St Andrew, also called the badge-appendant, is worn suspended from the collar. It comprises a gold enamelled depiction of St Andrew, wearing a green gown and purple coat, holding a white saltire . Gold rays of a glory are shown emanating from St Andrew's head.
Aside from these special occasions, however, much simpler insignia are used whenever a member of the Order attends an event at which decorations are worn.
* The star of the Order consists of a silver St Andrew's saltire,
with clusters of rays between the arms thereof. In the centre is
depicted a green circle bearing the motto of the Order in gold
majuscules ; within the circle, there is depicted a thistle on a gold
field. It is worn pinned to the left breast. (Since the Order of the
However, on certain collar days designated by the Sovereign, members
attending formal events may wear the Order's collar over their
military uniform, formal wear, or other costume. They will then
substitute the broad riband of another order to which they belong (if
any), since the Order of the
Upon the death of a Knight or Lady, the insignia must be returned to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. The badge and star are returned personally to the Sovereign by the nearest relative of the deceased.
Officers of the Order also wear green robes. The Gentleman Usher of the Green Rod also bears, as the title of his office suggests, a green rod.
One unusual recipient of the Order of the
Swords, helms and crests of Knights of the
When James VII created the modern Order in 1687, he directed that the
Abbey Church at the Palace of Holyroodhouse be converted to a Chapel
for the Order of the Thistle, perhaps copying the idea from the Order
of the Garter (whose chapel is located in
Windsor Castle ). James VII,
however, was deposed by 1688; the Chapel, meanwhile, had been
destroyed during riots. The Order did not have a Chapel until 1911,
when one was added onto
St Giles High Kirk in
Each member of the Order, including the Sovereign, is allotted a
stall in the Chapel, above which his or her heraldic devices are
displayed. Perched on the pinnacle of a knight's stall is his helm,
decorated with mantling and topped by his crest. If he is a peer , the
coronet appropriate to his rank is placed beneath the helm. Under the
laws of heraldry, women, other than monarchs, do not normally bear
helms nor crests; instead, the coronet alone is used (if she is a
peeress or princess). Lady
Marion Fraser had a helm and crest
included when she was granted arms; these are displayed above her
stall in the same manner as for knights. Unlike other British Orders,
the armorial banners of Knights and Ladies of the
Upon the death of a Knight, helm, mantling, crest (or coronet or crown) and sword are taken down. The stall plates, however, are not removed; rather, they remain permanently affixed to the back of the stall, so that the stalls of the chapel are festooned with a colourful record of the Order's Knights (and now Ladies) since 1911. The entryway just outside the doors of the chapel has the names of the Order's Knights from before 1911 inscribed into the walls giving a complete record of the members of the order.
PRECEDENCE AND PRIVILEGES
Banners of Knights of the Thistle, hanging in St Giles High Kirk
Knights and Ladies of the
Knights of the
Knights and Ladies use the post-nominal letters "KT" and "LT" respectively. When an individual is entitled to use multiple post-nominal letters, "KT" or "LT" appears before all others, except "Bt" or "Btss" ( Baronet or Baronetess ), "VC" ( Victoria Cross ), "GC" ( George Cross ) and "KG" or "LG" (Knight or Lady of the Garter).
Knights and Ladies may encircle their arms with the circlet (a green
circle bearing the Order's motto) and the collar of the Order; the
former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. The badge is
depicted suspended from the collar. The Royal Arms depict the collar
and motto of the Order of the
Knights and Ladies are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters . This high privilege is shared only by members of the Royal Family, peers, Knights and Ladies of the Garter, and Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the junior orders of chivalry and clan chiefs.
CURRENT MEMBERS AND OFFICERS
* KNIGHTS AND LADIES COMPANION:
* Andrew, Earl of Elgin and Kincardine KT JP DL (1981) * David, Earl of Airlie KT GCVO PC JP (1985) * Robert, Earl of Crawford and Balcarres KT GCVO PC DL (1996) * Norman, Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden KT DL (1996) * James, Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT PC QC (1997) * David, Lord Wilson of Tillyorn KT GCMG (2000) * Stewart, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood KT (2002) * Sir Eric Anderson KT (2002) * David, Lord Steel of Aikwood KT KBE PC (2004) * George, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG PC (2004) * William, Lord Cullen of Whitekirk KT PC (2007) * David, Lord Hope of Craighead KT PC QC (2009) * Narendra, Lord Patel KT (2009) * David, Earl of Home KT CVO CBE (2014) * Robert, Lord Smith of Kelvin KT CH (2014) * Vacant
* EXTRA KNIGHTS AND LADIES COMPANION:
* Prince Philip, Duke of
* Chancellor : David, Earl of Airlie KT GCVO PC JP
* Dean : The Very Rev
* ^ Vacant following the death of Lady Marion Fraser on 25 December 2016.
COUNTRY PRECEDING FOLLOWING
* ^ 1687 Statutes, quoted in Statutes (1987), p6
* ^ Nicolas, p. 4
* ^ This version of the foundation, although without the date, is
given in the warrant 'reviving' the Order in 1687. (1687 warrant,
quoted in Statutes, 1978, p. 1)
* ^ Nicholas, p4, footnote 1, notes that Achaius died more than a
century before Aethelstan
* ^ Nicolas, Appendix, p.vi, quotes Nisbet's A system of heraldry,
which relates this version.
* ^ Mackey and Heywood, p. 890
* ^ Nicolas, p. 3
* ^ A B C D "The Monarchy Today: Queen and Public: Honours: The
Order of the Thistle". The Royal Household. Archived from the original
on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2007.
* ^ Nicolas, footnote7, p. 15, quotes Nisbet in support of these
* ^ Calendar of State Papers Scotland, vol. 1 (1898), 206.
* ^ Leslie, John, Historie of Scotland, vol. 2, STS (1895),
* ^ Stevenson, Katie "The Unicorn,
St Andrew and the Thistle: Was
there an Order of Chivalry in Late Medieval Scotland?", Scottish
Historical Review. Volume 83, Page 3–22, April 2004
* ^ Nicolas quotes
Elias Ashmole 's Treatise on Military Orders
(1672) which mentions a ceremony involving Knights of
St Andrew (i.e.
Knights of the Thistle) but Nicolas goes on to say that "it was not
pretended that there were any "Knights of the Thistle" or "of St
Andrew" after the accession of James VI in 1567"
* ^ A B C "No. 2251".
The London Gazette
* ^ 1687 Warrant, quoted in Statutes (1978), p. 1
* ^ Nicolas, pp. 25–26
* ^ Joseph Timothy Haydn's Book of Dignities (Longmans, 1851), p.
* ^ 1703 warrant, quoted in Statutes (1978) pp. 11–12
* ^ 1687 Warrant, quoted in Statutes (1978), p2 states revive the
said Order, of which his Majesty is the undoubted and rightful
* ^ 1687 Warrant and 1687 Statutes, quoted in Statutes (1987) pp.
* ^ Warrant of 8 May 1827, quoted in Statutes (1978)
* ^ Members of the Order had to be Knights Bachelor before
appointment (1703 Statutes, article 14, quoted in Statutes (1978), p.
17); only men could be created as such.
* ^ Additional statute, 12 June 1937, quoted in Statutes (1978), p.
* ^ Many such statutes are quoted in Statutes (1978), all of which
follow a fixed formula.
* ^ Additional statute 17 January 1842, quoted in Statutes (1978),
p. 33. The first Royal Knight (other than a monarch) was a younger son
of George III , HRH The Prince William Henry (later William IV),
however he was admitted as one of the twelve ordinary knights
(Nicolas, p. 51).
* ^ Additional statute of 18 October 1962, quoted in Statutes
(1978), p. 63
* ^ "The Monarchy Today: Queen and Public: Honours: The Order of
the Garter". The Royal Household. Retrieved 18 February 2007.
* ^ Nicolas, p. 33, says that the Duke of Hamilton was given
special permission by Queen Anne, hitherto unprecedented, to belong to
both the Orders of the
Wikimedia Commons has media related to ORDER OF THE THISTLE .
* Burnett, C.J.; Hodgson, L. (2001). Stall Plates of the Most
Ancient and Most Noble Order of the
* "The Monarchy Today: Queen and Public: Honours: The Order of the Thistle". The official website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010. * "Royal Insight: Mailbox". The Royal Household. February 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2007. * "The Scale of General Precedence in Scotland". Burke's Peerage. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
* v * t * e
Orders, decorations, and medals of the
* Garter * Thistle * Bath * Merit * St Michael and St George * Royal Victorian * Distinguished Service * British Empire * Imperial Service * Companions of Honour * St John
* St Patrick * Royal Guelphic * Crown of India * Star of India * Indian Empire * Indian Merit * British India * Burma
ROYAL FAMILY ORDERS
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Conspicuous Gallantry Cross
* George Medal (GM) * Queen\'s Police Medal, for Gallantry (QPM) * Queen\'s Fire Service Medal, for Gallantry (QFSM)
* Constabulary Medal (Ireland) * Sea Gallantry Medal (SGM) * Queen\'s Gallantry Medal (QGM) * Royal Victorian Medal (RVM) * British Empire Medal (BEM) * Queen\'s Police Medal, for Distinguished Service (QPM) * Queen\'s Fire Service Medal, for Distinguished Service (QFSM) * Queen\'s Ambulance Service Medal (QAM) * Queen\'s Volunteer Reserves Medal (QVRM) * Queen\'s Medal for Chiefs * Polar Medal (PM) * Imperial Service Medal * Overseas Territories Police Medal (CPM) * Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service
* Mentioned in Despatches * Queen\'s Commendation for Bravery * Queen\'s Commendation for Bravery in the Air * Queen\'s Commendation for Valuable Service
* Albert Medal (2nd class) (AM)
Order of British India (First Class) (OBI)
Order of British India (Second Class) (OBI)
Order of Merit (Third Class) (IOM)
* Royal West African Frontier Force
Distinguished Conduct Medal
* King\'s African Rifles
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)
* Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)
* Union of South Africa Queen\'s Medal for Bravery (Silver)
* King\'s/Queen\'s Commendation for Brave Conduct * King\'s/Queen\'s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air
* See also: * British campaign medals * Revocations * Orders, decorations and medals * Campaign medals
* v * t * e
Australian royal honours
(Order of wearing )
ORDER OF THE GARTER
ORDER OF THE THISTLE
ORDER OF MERIT
ROYAL VICTORIAN ORDER
Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) • Knight/Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO/DCVO) • Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) • Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) • Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO)
ORDER OF SAINT JOHN
Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Knight/Dame of Justice of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Knight/Dame of Grace of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Chaplain/Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Officer of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Member of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Serving Brother/Serving Sister of the Venerable Order of Saint John • Esquire of the Venerable Order of Saint John
Royal Victorian Medal (RVM)
* v * t * e
Chancellors of the Order of the
* Walter Erskine, 12th Earl of Mar
* Walter Erskine, 12th Earl of Mar * Sidney Buller-Fullerton-Elphinstone, 16th Lord Elphinstone
David Ogilvy, 12th Earl of Airlie
Walter Montagu Douglas Scott, 8th Duke of Buccleuch
* Alec Douglas-Home, Baron Home of Hirsel
John Scott, 9th Duke of Buccleuch
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