Order of the Bath

Order of the Bath

GCB (Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath)
KCB (Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath)
DCB (Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath)
CB (Companion of the Order of the Bath)

From Saxon times until the coronation of King Charles II, on great royal occasions it was customary to confer 'a degree of knighthood'. Ceremonial surrounding the investiture consisted of fasting and vigils, and ritual washing and purifying of the body in preparation for the sacred oath, in which the knight laid his sword on the altar and promised to devote himself to God and the Church. These acts of  purification are thought to be the origin of the Knighthood 'of the Bath'.

In 1725 King George I created a new military Order and called it the Order of the Bath; the civil branch was established in 1847. Broadly speaking, the Order is awarded to officers of the armed forces, and to high-ranking civil servants.

The Order now consists of the Sovereign, a Great Master (presently the Prince of Wales, who was installed in 1975), and three classes of members, each of which is divided into civil and military divisions: Knights and Dames Grand Cross; Knights and Dames Commanders; Companions.

The Order is limited to 120 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 355 Knights Commander and Dames Commander, and 1,925 Companions. In 1971 women were admitted to the Order. Non-British subjects, when admitted to the Order, are designated 'honorary' members, but are in fact full members of the Order. Recommendations are made by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

The installation of Knights and Dames Grand Cross is performed in the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Every four years members - in full regalia - attend services of remembrance, held in the Chapel in the presence of the Grand Master.

The collar of the Order is worn by Knights and Dames Grand Cross at investitures of the Order and on 'Collar Days', 34 designated days throughout the year on which the collar may be worn. Most of these are Feasts of the Church, from New Year's Day to Innocents' Day on 28th December. The remainder are royal anniversaries: The Queen's accession (6th February), The Queen's birthday (21st April), the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 (29th May), The Queen's Coronation (2nd June), and the Duke of Edinburgh's birthday (10th June).

Collars are gold chains of the various Orders of Knighthood worn over the shoulders, and not around the neck, with the appropriate badge suspended from the front loop. The collar hangs at an equal distance back and front over the shoulders, when worn with morning dress it is stitched or pinned to the shoulders of the coat.

The mantle of a Knight and Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath is of crimson satin lined with white taffeta and tied with a cordon of white silk with two tassels of crimson silk and gold. The hat is of black velvet, high crowned and with an upright plume of white feathers in the front.

The motto of the Order is Tria juncto in una (three joined in one).

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