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The Queen attends Order of the Garter ceremony in Windsor

The Queen attends Order of the Garter ceremony in Windsor

Francis Batt

The Queen attends Order of the Garter ceremony in Windsor

An important figure was missing from yesterday's annual Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle.

Hundreds of people gathered outside to see the Garter Knights - led by the Queen - walk slowly in procession through the grounds to St George's Chapel, wearing the traditional blue velvet robes and black velvet hats with white plumes

But for the first time this year the Queen was not accompanied by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh as she led the procession. He was not far away though, beginning his recuperation at the castle after being released from a London hospital that morning following an abdominal operation 10 days earlier.

She was escorted instead by her son the Prince of Wales and grandson the Duke of Cambridge.

There was a new Knight of the Garter this year, former head of the UK's armed forces Air Chief Marshal Lord Stirrup who was invested by the Queen in the Garter throne room before the service.

The Queen personally appoints the Knights of the Garter, who are limited to 24 in number.

The Order of the Garter was founded by Edward III in 1348 and is the oldest British Order of Chivalry.

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