GREAT BRITAIN, THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER |
Writing in his diary on the day after the ceremony, Prince George recorded: ‘I am delighted to say that yesterday went off remarkably well, but I must say I think it is a very good thing over. The King has been kind enough to give me a most beautiful set of the Order. Two stars, and two splendid Georges, beside what I have got from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office’.
The cameo of St George and the dragon is the work of the celebrated gem- and die-engraver Benedetto Pistrucci (1783-1855), who had arrived in England from Rome in 1815 and had succeeded Thomas Wyon as Chief Medallist at the Royal Mint. Pistrucci’s iconic St George and the dragon design for coinage, which first appeared on the new gold sovereigns struck in 1817, remains in regular use 200 years later.
The present Lesser George badge is evidently one of a pair, the other having being given by the King to Prince George of Cumberland (1819-78), who was created KG on the same day as his cousin and who was later to become King George V of Hanover. Following the King’s death in 1878, his Pistrucci Lesser George was acquired by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and is now in the Royal Collection. See also front cover illustration.