Order of the Thistle
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle KT
(Knight of the Thistle)
LT (Lady of the Thistle)
This Order is second only in precedence to the Order of the Garter and it represents the highest honour in Scotland.
The date of its foundation is not known, but is thought to be in the 15th century during the reign of King James III of Scotland, who adopted the thistle as the royal badge of Scotland.
Appointments to the Order are in the personal gift of the Sovereign. In 1987 a statute provided that the Order might include ladies, and in 1996 Lady Marion Fraser was appointed a Lady of the Thistle. A statute of 1827 provided that the Order would consist of 16 Knights Brethren (Royal Knights and Ladies and Extra Knights are admitted in addition to this number by special statute).
Aside from the Royal Knights (The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Rothesay (The Prince of Wales), and The Princess Royal), all the Knights of the Thistle are Scottish, including three earls: Elgin, Airlie and Crawford; also Baron Steel of Aikwood (formerly David Steel, Leader of the Liberal Party), and Baron Mackay of Clashfern, a former Lord Chancellor).
Knights and Ladies of the Order wear a mantle of green velvet bound with taffeta and tied with cords and tassels of green and gold. The collar of gold consists of thistles intermingled with sprigs of rue, suspended from the centre an enamelled representation of St Andrew bearing the cross of his martyrdom, surrounded by golden rays.
The Order's motto is Nemo me impune lacessit (No one harms me with impunity).
The chapel of the Order is in St Giles's Cathedral, Edinburgh.