William hails ‘fitting’ appointment of Dame Mary Peters to Order of the Garter

The Duke of Cambridge has hailed the appointment of former Olympian Dame Mary Peters to the Order of the Garter.

Dame Mary, a Northern Ireland sporting great, won gold in the pentathlon at the 1972 Olympics and founded sports charity the Mary Peters Trust.

She will become a Lady Companion of the Order – the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.

William commented on the award during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The duke and Dame Mary both attended a reception for young leaders in Belfast on Wednesday evening.

He said: “Mary Peters is not only one of the United Kingdom’s sporting legends, she’s also inspired generation after generation to come together in times of trouble and work for the common good – a lesson I hope many of us can learn from.

“So it was fitting today that Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Mary to be a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter – one of the UK’s highest honours.”

Each year, Royal Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter gather at St George’s Chapel in Windsor for a colourful procession and ceremony.

Watched by crowds of onlookers, they walk down the hill to the chapel from the State Apartments, dressed in blue velvet mantles, red velvet hoods, black velvet hats and white ostrich plumes.

Dame Mary is one of two new appointments announced by the palace.

Mary Peters
Dame Mary Peters was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honourby the duke in 2015 (PA)

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the 7th Marquess of Salisbury who is former chairman of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, has been made a Knight Companion.

He organised the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in 2012 to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.

Royal Knights and Ladies in the Order include the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.

The Duke of Sussex has not yet been appointed to the Order.

Appointments to the Garter are in the Queen’s gift and made without prime ministerial advice.

They are for life unless a Knight or Lady Companion offends against certain “points of reproach”.

Dame Mary Peters
Mary Peters was made a dame in 2000 (PA)

Founded in 1348 by Edward III, the Garter is awarded by the sovereign for outstanding public service and achievement.

It is said to have been inspired by events at a ball in northern France, attended by the king and Joan, Countess of Salisbury.

The countess is believed to have dropped her garter, causing laughter and some embarrassment.

The chivalrous king, however, picked it up and wore it on his own leg, uttering the phrase “Honi soit qui mal y pense” – “Shame on him who thinks this evil” – now the Order’s motto.

The Order’s emblem is a blue ribbon or garter worn by men below the left knee and by women on the left arm.

There are now 23 non-royal companions in the order out of a maximum of 24.

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