The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Collar

SKU: 01.GBR.0102.101.01

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  • Collar Obverse


  • country
    Great Britain
  • date of institution
    May 29, 1687
  • makers
    Garrard, London
  • remarks
    This Order is not a revival of an ancient 8th century order but was established for the first time in 1687. There is no evidence of a chivalric order from this tumultuous period and no evidence of a "King Achaius." It is more likely that this myth was propagated to give credence to a new order that was born of politics.


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 later revived by Queen Anne in 1703 and has since remained the second highest decoration of the United Kingdom.

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 of 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 the 16 statutory Knights or Ladies.

Members are entitled to use the post-nominal letters KT or LT as well as the title “Sir” or “Lady” if they do not hold a higher designation.

The motto of the Order is NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT, which is Latin for “No one provokes me with impunity.”

The Collar is worn by members on formal occasions along with a mantle and hat. It is composed of 36 alternating links of thistle and sprigs of rue which are connected by small gold rings. The badge appendant depicts Saint Andrew bearing a saltire cross on a background of gold rays.

The Collar, 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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  • Composition


  • Inscription

  • Size

    1565mm; 34x29mm (Thistle Link); 44x30mm (Rue Link); 46x64mm (Badge Appendant)

  • Maker

    Garrard, London

  • Version Remarks

    The measurements of the Collar were taken from the Collar of the Earl of Ailesbury in the collection of the Royal Collection Trust. It wa...

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