A tradition dating back to the 14th century showed a touchingly human face behind its pomp and ceremony yesterday.
The annual Garter Day procession at Windsor Castle dates back to the reign of King Edward III in the 14th century. He was inspired by the Arthurian legend to found an order of 24 knights.
Yesterday five of his descendants proved that his dream still lives. One of the new knights, the Duke of Cambridge, walked in the procession with his father the Prince of Wales, both proudly wearing the blue velvet robes and black velvet hats with white plumes.
William was made a Royal Knight of the Order in 2008, joining his uncles the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, as well as his aunt - the Princess Royal. His then fiancee Kate Middleton - now his wife the Duchess of Cornwall - watched his first procession.
She was there again yesterday, standing with Charles' wife the Duchess of Cornwall in the Galilee Porch at St George's Chapel.
Her cheerful beam as William passed - immediately matched by his - caused as much comment than the impeccably staged procession.
But the 6,000 spectators were equally delighted by the presence of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh so soon after the diamond jubilee celebrations and his stay in hospital.
The procession followed the traditional progress to the west door to St George's Chapel for a special service.
The Order of the Garter has remained the highest British order of chivalry, still limited to 24 knights plus the Prince of Wales and the Queen who is sovereign of the order.
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