The Festive Order of the Garter is in focus at Windsor Castle this Christmas • The Crown Chronicles

With the festive season just around the corner, the Royal Collection Trust has announced its plans to celebrate Christmas in its royal residences with spectacular Christmas displays, paying homage to royal history.

The Scarlet Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023)

Windsor Castle

Festive celebrations at Windsor Castle will mark the 675th anniversary of the award of the Order of the Garter. The order is Britain’s oldest order of chivalry, founded at Windsor in 1348. Edward III established the order around the time of his claim to the French throne.

Appointments to the Order of the Garter are made at the sole discretion of the King, making such a role a great honour. Membership is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 living members, known as ‘Companions’.

tell me about…. The most noble Order of Rabat

Windsor is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, built by William I; Today it covers 13 acres. Having gone through a number of improvements and renovations over the centuries, most of the current castle comes from the work of George IV, with renovations made after the 1992 fire.

The highlight of the castle’s Christmas display will be the 20-foot-tall Nordmann fir in St George’s Hall, which was planted near Windsor Great Park. This year, the tree will be topped with a specially designed garter star to mark the 675th anniversary. There will also be coronation-themed decorations on the tree to celebrate the coronation of the King and Queen earlier this year.

Other major highlights of the festive celebrations will be seen at Waterloo Hall; The 160-foot-long dining table will be covered in Garter Service porcelain and features a design inspired by the Garter star and the Order’s logoAnd shame on whoever thinks bad about him (Shame on those who think badly of him.)

The grand staircase at Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023)

An additional Christmas tree topped with a Garter star will also be seen in the Scarlet Drawing Room – one of the most elaborate rooms in the castle. The room is regularly used by the royal family for special occasions and was part of the private apartments created for George IV.

The room returned to its former glory after the fire.

St. George’s Church is the mother church of the Rabat Community, which can also be visited during a trip to the castle. Annual Garter services were discontinued during the reign of George III in 1805, possibly due to his recurring illnesses, but were revived by George VI in 1948 to mark the 600th anniversary of the founding of the order and have since become an annual event.

St. George’s Chapel will be open to visitors to the castle on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and services will be open to everyone seven days a week.

Celebrations can be viewed at Windsor Castle from 30 November 2023 to 1 January 2024.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Royal Family of Scotland. Founded as a priory in 1128 at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, it became the main headquarters for Scotland’s national celebrations and events, especially during Holyrood Week.

The Christmas tree in the wood-panelled throne room is the centerpiece of the exhibits at Holyroodhouse. There will also be another sparkling Nordmann fir and two decorative shelf pieces in the large, storied gallery.

The dining room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse is decorated for Christmas. (Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023)

Wreaths of velvet, vibrant berries, and seasonal foliage will appear on the grand staircase leading to the historic State Apartments, and wreaths will be hung on the windows in the courtyard of the King’s Chambers.

In the Royal Dining Room, the large table will be set with a silver platter, fruit and candied leaves, harking back to the days of the Georgians.

Visitors interested in learning how royalty celebrated Christmas over the centuries – from exchanging Christmas cards and personal gifts to staging festive pantomimes – can listen to short talks held on Thursdays throughout December.

There will be a special event focusing on Mary, Queen of Scots, which will take place on the day she was born: December 8.

The celebrations can be viewed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse from 23 November 2023 to 1 January 2024.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse’s grand gallery is decorated for Christmas. (Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023)

There will also be exclusive guided tours of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where visitors will have the opportunity to explore the formal rooms or apartments in each residence. Tours will be available from November to February.

A range of Royal memorabilia will be available from the Royal Collection Trust online store.

You can book tickets for the Royal Residences here.

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