Sunday, 24 January 2021

Order of St Patrick


Established in 1783, it was an order of knighthood and the letters KP followed the recipient's title.

Originally founded as a gesture of goodwill towards the Kingdom of Ireland, it was made available to Irish peers who had rendered distinguished services, and to those who could not be admitted to the Order of the Garter (limited to twenty-four).

The Order of St Patrick was restricted to twenty-two knights.

The insignia was particularly decorative: a sash riband was worn over the right shoulder, light blue in colour, with an oval pierced badge suspended from it.

This consisted of a shamrock with three crowns on its leaves (representing the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland), the shamrock being placed on a cross of St Patrick.

The centre was surrounded by an oval which bore the legend QUIS SEPARABIT - who shall separate - and the Latin numerals, MDCCLXXXIII (1783).

The gold and enamel collar chain consisted of alternate roses and harps.

The breast star was of silver with a representation of the sash badge in the centre.

The mantle was also light blue satin with the star of the Order embroidered thereon.

The badge and plume of the Irish Guards are based on the Order's star and light blue colour.

The Order was discontinued following the secession of the Irish Republic from the United Kingdom in 1922.

3rd Duke of Abercorn KG KP. (Image: Government Art Collection)

The last non-royal recipient was the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, KG, KP, PC, in 1922.

The last surviving recipient of the Patrick was His late Royal Highness The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, who died in 1974.

HRH Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster KG KP etc

The last appointment to the Order was for His Royal Highness The Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York (later GEORGE VI), conferred on St Patrick's Day, 1936.

The Rev Professor Peter Galloway, OBE, JP, has written a book about the Order, entitled The Most Illustrious Order: The Order of Saint Patrick and its Knights, by Unicorn Press.

As Professor Galloway concluded, 
Perhaps a day may come when the Order of St Patrick could be revived but, until a new, appropriate and acceptable constituency can be discerned, this seems unlikely in the foreseeable future.
First published in July, 2008.


Ossie Bullock said...

I think you are incorrect to say that the sash of the Order of St Patrick was worn over the left shoulder: my understanding is that it was worn over the right. The somewhat similarly-coloured (but darker blue) sash of the Order of the Garter was and is worn over the left, and this serves to distinguish them in cases where the colour intended is uncertain, as it can be in portraits.

The two illustrations on the page of the Dukes of Abercorn and Gloucester show one of each: Abercorn is wearing the Garter sash, while Gloucester has on that of St Patrick. Both men were actually knights of both orders (and both are wearing the stars of both). That the Duke of Gloucester has chosen to wear the KP sash suggests that he is portrayed at a function relating in some way to Ireland - or perhaps it was just that it interfered less with his row of medals!

Timothy Belmont said...

Dear Ossie Bullock, you are quite right. Thanks for reminding me about the error. I'll amend it. Tim.