"St George was the patron saint, not only of England, but of England's ancient order of chivalry, the Garter"
Badge of the Order of the Garter, England, about 1640. V&A Museum, cropped from the original
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBadge of the Order of the Garter, England, about 1640. V&A Museum, cropped from the original - Credit: VAwebteam

Originating in medieval England with Edward III, the Most Noble Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry, or knighthood.  It is bestowed, and is the highest honour after peerage.  Comprising of no more than the sovereign, the Prince of Wales and up to twenty four others, new orders are given on 23 April, St George's Day, the day of the patron saint of England. 

 

St George struggling with the Dragon, by Raphael. 1503-1505
Public DomainSt George struggling with the Dragon, by Raphael. 1503-1505 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

St George, one of the most celebrated of military saints worldwide, within the Christian Church,  is believed to have been a Roman soldier and a priest.  Best known for defeating the dragon, this story seems to have been brought back with the Crusaders and became popularised over the centuries.  A dragon, which had been terrorising a community, demands a daily sacrifice to let them use the well for water.  One day the sacrificial victim happens to be a princess.  St George duly slays the dragon and rescues the princess.  In gratitude the king, her father, and all the people convert to Christianity. 

 

St George's Day had been a feast day in England since 1222, although it is no longer, and Edward III put his Order of the Garter under the flag of St George in around 1348.