A relative of mine received an honour in the Queen’s New Year list. He is now a Companion of the Bath. The Order of the Bath, one of the British Orders of Chivalry, dates from 1725, when it was founded by King George I. Today, the honours list is a way of recognizing individual achievement or service to the country.
The name refers to the historic practice of a bath as a ritual of purification for knights just prior to the accolade, or dubbing, which conferred the honour.
The Order of the Bath has six officers, including the wonderfully named Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod, whose equivalent in the Order of the Garter is the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. I am caught between a desire to make bad puns about these names and delight at the survival of these remnants of medieval times in today’s world.
The order’s motto is Tria iuncta in uno ((Three joined in one), but the significance of the motto has been lost.