The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Breast Star
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The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle was established by King James VII of Scotland in 1687 to reward his Scottish peers for supporting his Catholic faith and politics. These efforts were short-lived due to his exile the following year during the Glorious Revolution. The Order fell into abeyance due to its political foundations and connection to Catholicism. It was revived by Queen Anne in 1703 and has been remained the second highest decoration of the United Kingdom since.
The Order was originally composed of 12 Knights in allusion to the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, but George IV enlarged the official membership to 16 Knights in 1827. Membership in the Order was also originally restricted to men. The first female member was Queen Elizabeth, Consort of King George VI, who was appointed by special regulation in 1937. Female membership became official in 1987, and the first Lady was appointed to the Order in 1996.
From its establishment in 1687 until 1946, the Order was conferred by the Sovereign on the advice of the government. Since 1946, it has been conferred exclusively as a personal gift of the Sovereign. It is currently conferred upon Scottish citizens by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of outstanding contributions to life in the United Kingdom. It may also be conferred upon members of the British Royal Family or foreign monarchs, who are not counted as one of 16 statutory Knights or Ladies. Members are entitled to use the post-nominal letters KT or LT as well as the “Sir” or “Lady” if they do not hold a higher title.
The motto of the Order is NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT, which is Latin for “No one provokes me with impunity.”
The Breast Star is worn by members on less formal occasions along with sash and medal. It was instituted by George I in 1714 and features the motto of the order in the medallion. There may be additional versions worn by royalty that feature diamonds and other precious gems.
The Breast Star, along with all officially issued insignia, is to be returned to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood following the death of the holder.
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