While dancing with King Edward III, a high-born lady dropped her garter. The King picked it up and fastened it to his own leg. In response to the snickers of some of those present, he famously declared, "Honi soit qui mal y pense," meaning "Evil be to him who thinks evil of it." This phrase became the motto of the Order of the Garter.
While there is much dispute about the details of the legend, including the identity of the lady, her relationship to the King, and the event at which it took place, the subsequent history of the Order is well known. It always includes the sovereign, who currently has sole discretion over the membership. Other members of the royal family, foreign sovereigns and former Prime Ministers are some of the Garter Knights.
Knights of the Garter take precedence over all other English knightly ranks.