Senior royals don plumed hats and velvet robes for Garter Day service

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The Princess Royal, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, Spain’s King Felipe and Dutch King Willem-Alexander during the annual Order of the Garter Service in Windsor (Peter Nicholls/PA)

British and European royal women have turned on the style for Garter Day as foreign monarchs were honoured by the Queen during a display of pomp and pageantry.

The Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex led the way in the fashion stakes as they stood shoulder to shoulder with Queen Letizia of Spain and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands during the annual event.

The royal party watched as Garter knights – both commoners and royals including their husbands – wore lavish velvet robes, glistening insignia and plumed hats for a procession through the grounds of Windsor Castle to the St George’s Chapel service commemorating the Order of the Garter.

Order of the Garter Service 2019
The Queen arrives at St George’s Chapel (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Newly invested members of the order, King Felipe VI of Spain and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands – now supernumerary, or stranger knights – proudly walked with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex.

The watching royal women all looked stylish in wide-brimmed hats, with Kate wearing a Catherine Walker coat and Lock & Co hat, Camilla dressed in an Anna Valentine coat and Philip Treacy hat, and Sophie wearing a Suzannah dress and Jane Taylor hat.

Maxima wore an outfit by Claes Iversen and a hat by Fabienne Delvigne.

Order of the Garter Service 2019
The Queen with King Felipe VI of Spain and his wife, Queen Letizia (Steve Parsons/PA)

Former prime minister Sir John Major, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, a past president of the Supreme Court, and Admiral Lord Boyce, a former head of the UK’s armed forces, are also Garter knights and were part of the procession in front of the royals.

Maxima seemed the most excited by events, smiling broadly as her husband Willem-Alexander walked past next to his Spanish counterpart Felipe.

Hundreds of spectators watched as the Garter knights walked through the castle grounds accompanied by ceremonial military units.

Their route was lined by troopers on foot from the Household Cavalry’s Life Guards and Blues and Royals, wearing their plumed helmets and carrying swords.

The Queen, who arrived by state limousine, is sovereign of the order and appoints new Knights of the Garter without consulting ministers.

Recipients are chosen because they have held public office, contributed to national life or served the sovereign personally.

The foreign monarchs were invested with the insignia of the order by the Queen in the castle’s garter throne room and during the service were installed, or formally seated, in the chapel’s quire.

Order of the Garter Service 2019
From left, Sophie Countess of Wessex, Queen Letizia of Spain, the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the Duchess of Cambridge watch the parade (Steve Parsons/PA)

Felipe was appointed to the Order of the Garter by the Queen during his July 2017 state visit while Willem-Alexander received the honour during his state visit in October last year.

During the service two new members of the order were installed – a Lady Companion, Lady Mary Peters, and a Knight Companion, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury.

The crowds were treated to the spectacle of the senior royals travelling back to the castle in a carriage procession with the Queen joined in her coach by Charles and Camilla.

They were followed by William and Kate with the King and Queen of Spain, and the Dutch monarch and his wife rode with Andrew past cheering well-wishers.

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