Thursday, 21 January 2021

Patrick Revival


One of the three great national Orders of Chivalry, The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick (KP), has lain dormant since the investiture of the last Knight, HRH The Duke of York (later George VI), in 1936.

The last surviving Knight was another son of  King George V, HRH The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster.

He died in 1974.

I have read about and studied the history of the Order, its constitution and establishment at length.

Since the partition of Ireland, in 1922, there have been no non-royal conferrals.

The 3rd Duke of Abercorn, first Governor of Northern Ireland, was the very last non-royal conferral, in 1922.

Serious and sustained attempts were made to keep the Order alive (hence King George V appointing his sons).

The continuance of the great Order was discussed for many years, including how it could continue; and after a period, be revived.

Lords Craigavon  and Brookeborough were both most desirous that the Order be revived for Northern Ireland, as a national Order ~ like the Garter in England and the Thistle in Scotland.

Despite the fact that, technically, the Order remains on the statute book (it’s still on the royal family website), it has been allowed to wither and hibernate.

Sir Winston Churchill was the last statesman to endeavour to revive the Order

Having read some documents, it is my belief that the key players in the Order’s revival today would be:-
  • The Prime Minister
  • The Foreign Secretary
  • The Northern Ireland Secretary
  • The First Minister of Northern Ireland
  • The Northern Ireland Assembly
  • The Sovereign
I have to mention the Irish Government because the government of the then Irish Free State was instrumental in its resistance to keeping the Patrick alive, or extant.

However, to my knowledge, the Garter and the Thistle are in the personal gift of the Sovereign, so I wonder whether the revival of the Patrick should really be "politicised" at all.

It need merely be reconstituted, with new statutes, officers and chapel.

The Order of St Patrick would need to be reconstituted; new and more appropriate Statutes drawn; and probably a new Chapel found for the banners, hatchments etc of the new Knights.

It was suggested in the 20th century that the Great Hall at Stormont would be fitting as a chamber for the banners.

A former Archbishop of Armagh offered St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, as the Chapel of the Order.

The insignia of the Order remains, including at least 22 chains, stars, mantles and sashes; as does the Sovereign’s regalia and the Grand Master’s insignia.

All of the insignia still exists at the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, I believe.

I respectfully and humbly call on Her Majesty’s Government to consider the revival of our great Order of St Patrick, as a gesture of goodwill towards the people of Northern Ireland.

Like the Garter and the Thistle, it should be restricted to a few dozen.

It should remain the personal gift of the Sovereign.

I have been using my website to give exposure to the Patrick for a number of years and will continue so to do.

The Rev Professor Peter Galloway, LVO, 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.


Himself said...


I too would much like to see the Patrick revived, but with a much broader base than you propose. Historically it was limited to aristocratic candidates, with little pretence to meritocracy. Might it not in future stand in place of the Order of the British Empire for candidates from Northern Ireland, with the same grades of appointment, MStP, OStP, CStP, KStP, DStP?

I accept that this would be a major change to the statutes, perhaps a level of Grand Kt / Dame could also be created and retained in the Soverign's direct gift. President McAleese would be a worthy first recipient.

Timothy Belmont said...

The Order of the British Empire has always been of a lower grade than the Garter and the Thisle, equivalent in staure to the Patrick.

To exclude recipients from NI would be inconceivable, to my mind; especially given that most, if not all, the recipients are British Citizens.

I do, however, agree that the nature of the Patrick would change and I have proposed a model broadly similar to that of the Thistle and Garter: Ladies of the Order, with the letters LP.

David said...

"as does the Sovereign’s regalia for the Patrick". I thought a person or persons unknown made off with those in 1907.

Timothy Belmont said...

Sir Arthur Vicars, Ulster King of Arms, was held culpable for the theft of the Grand Master's insignia, known as the "Irish Crown Jewels".

The King's insignia were not stolen.

An assistant of Sir Arthur, called Shackelton, was suspected of the theft at the time.

JSMac said...

Knew there might be something related tucked away in a drawer, but it was only a badge for the Benevolent Society of St Patrick, a bone or ivory disc from a blue ribbon. If you have any thoughts as to what to do with it, do let us know. -- and perhaps what you know about this society. Best J

Timothy Belmont said...

Dear JSMac,

Thanks for your information. I wondered if you could contact me at ? If you could possibly send me a photo of it, I can make inquiries. Tim.