top of page
  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s large Garter Star & Mantle

© Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

Queen Victoria had a vast collection of insignia, within this collection she had two Order of The Garter stars. The large star was supposedly pinned to her garter mantle and the small one pinned next to her Garter riband. Today we will be looking at Queen Victoria's larger Garter star.

This particular star measures 13.0 x 13.0 cm and is described by John Bridge of Rundell & Bridge as ' a star consisting of 838 brilliants and is valued at £2,500, which 'may have been made in Queen Anne’s time’. It was described as ‘a star which Queen Anne had provided for Prince George of Denmark, but which had never been worn by him’. Lady Anne (as she was the) had married Prince George of Denmark on 28 July 1683. It was a match intended to develop an Anglo-Danish alliance to contain Dutch maritime power. George was given many honours to uphold his position and strengthen ties between his own and his adopted country, including the Order of the Garter, which he received in 1684. On Charles II’s death Prince George acted as chief mourner at his funeral, and was soon afterwards appointed to the Privy Council by James II. The diamond Garter star eventually fell Into King George III's hands thus passed down the linage to Queen Victoria.

In 1858 the centre was remade with 18 brilliants, the Garter motto was reset in roses, the original 2-carat brilliant drop was replaced with a 1-carat stone and 398 brilliants were replaced. Possibly at the same time the rays, which were originally flexible, were reinforced with gold and fixed in place.

Queen Victoria would have pinned this onto her Garter Mantle for occasions such as investing someone into the order or for Garter Day. The mantle of The Sovereign has a train unlike other members of the order, The Sovereign also has a Garter star pinned to the mantle instead of the hereldic badge of The Garter like other appointees.

© Queen Victoria Revival 2024

Queen Victoria first describes her Garter Mantle as being dark blue velvet and lined with white silk:

Friday 14th July 1837 -

'I then put on the Mantle and Collar of the Garter, (of dark blue velvet lined with white silk)'

For some reason the artist depicts Queen Victoria wearing the St George badge instead of the Monarchs Garter Star © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

The Knights of the Order of the Garter have been wearing a robe or mantle (a loose-fitting cloak) in some form of fashion for centuries. Originally the Mantle was a blue woollen hood with liripipe, powdered with garters embroidered in silk and gold. A new design was introduced by King Henry VIII, based on the fifteenth century chaperon. The colour varied during the 17th and 18th centuries from purple to light blue, the current material is dark blue velvet lined with white taffeta. 

The Garter mantles have been made by Ede & Ravenscroft since the mid 18th century, they still provide robing services at Windsor for the Royal Family and Knights Companion at the annual Garter Ceremony. Between 1842 and 1882 they made Garter mantles for twenty foreign rulers, including Emperor Napoleon III of France; Emperor Alexander III of Russia; the Kings of Denmark, Hellenes, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Sardinia, Saxony, Spain and Sweden; and the Shah of Persia. In 1877 the company provided robes for Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, later Kaiser Wilhelm II. They also supplied Queen Victoria's.

A surcoat would have been worn with the original 15th century uniform. It was once a close-fitting tunic of wool, lined with fur and decorated with embroidered garters depending upon rank. The colour changed annually. In the sixteenth century the fabric became crimson velvet, lined with white silk. The embroidered garters were discontinued, and the surcoat was quite plain. In the seventeenth century the surcoat was simply cut, widening from the shoulders to the hem, with plain square fronts and hanging sleeves slit at the shoulder and down the front seam. The length varied from knee to mid-calf, and it was unfastened, secured at the waist by a girdle or sword belt. The surcoat (also called the gown or kirtle) died out towards the end of the nineteenth century and it is no longer worn. The surcoat has continued to be represented by a broad sash of crimson velvet lined with white taffeta, and worn attached to the shoulder over the mantle, and passing under it on the left side.

Unfortunately there is no records of Queen Victoria's Garter Mantle surviving but Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's 1947 mantle survives in The Royal Collection. This gives us an idea of how Victoria's looked as the design has hardly changed since the 18th century.

© Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III 2024

In 2023, King Charles III actually wore the wrong Garter Mantle to Garter Day. His Mantle lacked both the sovereigns train and a Garter Star, he wore the mantle he wore as Prince of Wales. His Majesty elected by preference to continue using his existing mantle, as the length of the Sovereign's Mantle would mean he required page boys to carry the trainIt seems the etiquette within The Royal Familiy is diminishing slowly.

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page