Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick

As is my custom on St Patrick’s Day I am once again posting about the Order of St Patrick, founded in 1783 by King George III as the Irish equivalent of the Orders of the Garter and the Thistle.

There are informative articles about the Order at Order of St Patrickat The Order of St Patrickat Order of St Patrick and at Order of St Patrick

There are various additional images relating to its insignia and personnel from this link at Pinterest

Unlike the Garter, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Thistle there appear to be relatively few images of Sovereigns and members of the Royal Family wearing the Order.

The Duke of Cumberland, later King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, in the robes of the Order

Image: Wikipedia 

Queen Victoria wearing the Order of St Patrick.
A detail from the 1854 portrait of the Queen by Stephen Carterton Smith, painted to commemorate her visit to Dublin in 1849. The painting is in the Mansion House in Dublin. The Queen is shown wearing the Oriental Circlet, which is still part of the Royal Collection.

There is a fine photograph of the Duke of York, later King George V, wearing the riband and star from the time of his installation as a Knight of St Patrick on his visit to Dublin in August-September 1897 here

Photographs of King Edward VII wearing the riband and star of the Order with his Field Marshsl’s uniform at Viceregal Lodge on his visit to Dublin in July-August 1903 can be seen from the Royal Collection at Image: Newton Wynne Apperley (1847-1925) - King Edward VII and Queen ... and at HRH Princess Victoria (1868-1935), 2nd daughter of King Edward VII; King Edward VII (1841-1910); Queen Alexandra (1844-1925).

It was on the eve of the King’s next visit in 1907 that the Irish Crown Jewels - the diamond star and badge of the Order worn by the Lord Lieutenant - were stolen from Dublin

King George V wearing the riband of the Order on the occasion of the State Opening of the Northern Irish Parliament June 22 1921.

Image:postcard Ireland.com

King George VI, the last new appointee to the Order on this day in 1936, can be seen wearing the riband and star of the Order in this YouTube from the following year:

Their Majesties In Ireland (1937)

The late Duke of Gloucester, who died in 1974 was the last Knight of the Order. He was appointed to it in 1934. He wore the insignia of the Order on visits to Northern Ireland - his secondary title was Earl of Ulster

HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Ulster KG, KP


Today The Queen, as Sovereign, is the only member of the Order - the last non-royal Knight died in 1961 - but so far as I know Her Majesty has never worn the insignia of the Order on her visits to Northern Ireland.

My previous posts about the Order can be viewed at The Order of St Patrick (2011), Banners of the Knights of St Patrick (2012), The Order of St Patrick (2013), Insignia of the Order of St Patrick (2014), The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick (2015), Order of St Patrick (2016)

I always make in these posts the case for restoring the Order to its proper place amongst the Sovereign’s Orders of Chivalry. It could serve not only as a means of honouring those from Northern Ireland but also on a cross-border basis as a recognition of shared identity and heritage with those based in the other twenty six counties. It could be a way of building bridges in a symbolic way.

I know I am not alone in this opinion from talking with friends. It is more widespread than that. Here is a letter to the The Times from 2004 on the subject: Time to revive Order of St Patrick

Since that was written there has been the exchange of State Visits and other gestures of reconciliation, Brexit not withstanding. There is a strong case for reviving the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.

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