King appoints former spy chief as Order of the Garter’s new Chancellor

The former director general of MI5 has been named as the Order of the Garter’s new Chancellor, Buckingham Palace has announced.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, who served for more than 30 years with the intelligence service including five years as its director general, has been appointed to the role by the King.

The decision is in the King’s gift, made without consulting ministers, and from Tuesday the peer will become the first woman to hold the post since the office’s inception in 1475, and will succeed the Duke of Abercorn, retiring after 12 years.

The announcement comes ahead of Garter Day on Monday, when the order will be commemorated during an annual service held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and attended by the King, Queen and other members of the royal family.

The King and Queen attending last year's Garter Service
The King and Queen attending last year’s Garter Service (John Phillips/PA)

Lady Manningham-Buller sits as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords and was appointed a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by Queen Elizabeth II in 2014, after she retired from MI5 seven years earlier.

The main focus of her work with MI5 was counter-terrorism, both international and domestic, and during her tenure terrorists launched the July 7 bombings in London and terrorism risk assessments were made public.

The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain, established nearly 700 years ago by King Edward III who was inspired by tales of King Arthur and the chivalry of the Knights of the Round Table.

Charles has also appointed Lord Ashton of Hyde, a former Conservative chief whip in the Lords, to the largely ceremonial role of Master of the Horse.

The holder in centuries past was responsible for the sovereign’s horses, coaches and travel arrangements and today is titular head of the Royal Mews, which looks after royal vehicles such as state Bentleys and carriages.

Lord Ashton will replace the serving Master of the Horse, Lord de Mauley, whose final major duty will be to ride in this weekend’s Trooping the Colour ceremony as holders of the post are present when the Royal Mews supports state occasions.