The Royal trio, resplendent in striking green velvet robes, glistening insignia and white-plumed hats, took part in the ceremony at in St Giles’ Cathedral, where new Members of the Order were installed by Her Majesty.
She showed no signs of the illness which saw her pull out of a service at St Paul’s last Thursday, with a Buckingham Palace spokesman explained: “The Queen is feeling under the weather today and has decided not to attend this morning’s service at St Paul’s Cathedral marking the 200th anniversary of the Order of Michael and St George.”
In Scotland, she was boosted by the presence of Anne and William, who is on a visit to Scotland and who yesterday attended the Royal Society of Edinburgh to present medals to pioneers in the fields of molecular biology, civil engineering and music.
The date of the foundation of the Order of the Thistle is uncertain, although legend has it that it was founded in 809 when King Achaius made an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne.
It is possible that the Order may have been founded by James III (1488-1513), who was responsible for changes in Royal symbolism in Scotland, including the adoption of the thistle as the Royal plant badge.
James II (James VII of Scotland) established the Order with a statutory foundation under new rules in 1687 – to reward Scottish peers who supported the king’s political and religious aims.
The Queen is the Sovereign of the Order, and appointments made to the Order are entirely her personal gift, in recognition of men and women who have held public office or have contributed significantly to national life.
Current Knights and Ladies of the Thistle include music teacher and ex-Director of St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, Lady Marion Fraser, and previous Chief Scout of the United Kingdom, Sir Garth Morrison.
In addition to the 16 Knights and Ladies, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal, and The Duke of Cambridge – known in Scotland as The Earl of Strathearn – have been appointed as Royal Knights of the Thistle.
Every other year, dressed in their striking green velvet robes, glistening insignia and white-plumed hats, the knights take part in a grand procession to the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle in Edinburgh, for the Order of the Thistle Service.
The Knights and Ladies meet for a ceremony at The Thistle Chapel in St Giles’ Cathedral, where any new Members are installed into the Order by The Queen.
The procession begins in the Signet Library in Edinburgh Town Centre, while just outside the Library in Parliament Square collect The Guard of Honour with the Colours (flags) of the Royal Company, accompanied by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The Sovereign and the Knights, accompanied by the Chancellor, Dean and Secretary of the Thistle, then process into the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, where The Queen installs the new Knights. The procession then continues to the Cathedral for the remainder of the Service.
Following the Service there is a short Reception in the Signet Library, and a lunch at the Palace of Hollyroodhouse.