Why Meghan Markle Didn’t Attend Prestigious Order Of The Thistle Service

Prince Harry and sister-in-law Kate Middleton were also absent from the historic event this year.

Meghan Markle meets group of leaders during the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony
Yui Mok / Getty Images

Prince Harry and sister-in-law Kate Middleton were also absent from the historic event this year.

The Order of the Thistle is an event that happens every other year, and it is Scotland’s greatest order of chivalry. The prestigious service is second in importance only to the Order of the Garter, yet Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton were not scheduled to attend. Their conspicuous absence from the service prompted many to wonder why. However, all three royals had understandable reasons for not going, reports Express.

The royal ceremony is held at the Thistle Chapel in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, and the event celebrates knighthood, Scotland’s highest honor for public office. The Order of the Thistle was originally founded in 1687 to reward the Scottish people who supported the monarchy’s political and religious objectives. Today, it welcomes new Knights and Ladies to the order, while also recognizing Scottish people who have held public office or contributed in some way to national life.

New members to the Order are inducted by Queen Elizabeth II, who, along with other members of the royal family attended the event. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry did not go to the Order of the Thistle because Harry is not a Knight of the Order. Although Prince Harry has not been knighted yet, it is possible he will receive the honor in the future. The Duke of Sussex has not received a knighthood for the Order of the Garter yet, as well.

Kate Middleton attended the Order in the past since Prince William is a Knight of the Thistle. The last time that the Duchess of Cambridge attended an Order of the Thistle was back in 2012, according to Town and Country. That was the year when Queen Elizabeth installed Prince William as a Knight of the Thistle.

Kate Middleton and Prince William leave service in a car
Prince William and Princess Katherine at the Order of the Thistle Ceremony in 2012. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

This year, Kate Middleton missed the Order of the Thistle service because she is on maternity leave. The Duchess gave birth to her third child, Prince Louis, only two months ago. For now, she has stepped down from her royal duties to concentrate on Prince Louis and her other youngsters, five-year-old Prince George and three-year-old Princess Charlotte.

The Order of the Thistle is an ancient service, which legend states was originally “founded in 809 when King Achaius made an alliance with Emperor Charlemagne.” The Order was possibly founded later by James III, who is additionally the one responsible for changing Scotland’s royal symbolism. The monarch’s changes included the “adoption of the thistle as the Royal plant badge,” according to the official website of the royal family.

James II (James VII of Scotland) established the Order of the Thistle in 1687, and the Service as we know it today consists of 16 Knights and Ladies, its Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II and Chancellor, David, Earl of Airlie, among others.

Guests that wanted to view the procession of the Order of the Thistle were allowed to secure tickets in advance by mail. Those that did attend the service were treated to a procession of Knights dressed in elaborate costumes that included brightly-colored velvet robes, shining insignia, and white-feathered hats. The Knight and Ladies met for the service at the Thistle Chapel.

Afterward, the Sovereign and the Knights, along with the Chancellor, proceeded into the Thistle Chapel, where the Queen welcomed the new Knights and members into the Order of the Thistle. The procession then went on to St Giles’ Cathedral to finish the service. After the service, there was a brief gathering in the Signet Library.