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The Military Knights of Windsor were known informally as the Poor Knights. Originally known as the Alms Knights, they are retired officers who receive a pension and accommodation at Windsor Castle. They are commanded by the Governor of the Military Knights of Windsor, who is a senior officer who has also retired. Retired Officers must become a Military Knight before the age of 65 and places are given to applicants in needy circumstances who are married.
Military Knights provide support for the Order of the Garter and for the services of St. George’s Chapel. The Military Knights of Windsor participate in the Order’s processions and escort the Kings and Ladies of the Garter and are not paid for their duties today.
During the reign of King Edward III, following the Battle of Crecy (1346), the Alms Knights of St George’s Chapel were established. Originally, veteran warriors were called to ‘serve God continually in prayer’. Duties included attending four services per day and praying for the sovereign and the Knights of the Order of the Garter and rooms.
The Alms Knights were a charity organised to pray for its patron. Originally they were Poor Knights or impoverished military veterans who were required to pray for the Sovereign and Knights Companions of the Order of the Garter. In return they received 12p per day and were given lodgings at Windsor Castle. If any Poor Knight were to acquire an income of more than £20 a year then he would be removed from the college.
In 1833 King William IV renamed them the Military Knights of Windsor. The Military Knights of Windsor claim to be the oldest military establishment in the Army List. Their home is in the Lower Ward of the Castle for as long as they can carry out their duties, which often takes them until the end of their days.