St Andrew’s Day marks the day on which recipients of the Order of the Thistle are announced.  Yesterday, 30 November 2009, two Thistle knights were appointed, one of which was Lord Hope of Craighead, the deputy president of the Supreme Court.

The Order of the Thistle represents the highest honour in Scotland and is second only in precedence in the UK to the Order of the Garter.  The Order honours Scottish men and women who have held public office or who have contributed in a significant way to national life.

 Lord Hope received the honour in recognition of his commitment to public life.  He practised at the Scottish Bar for 24 years and was made a Law Lord in 1996.  He is now one of two Scottish justices of the Supreme Court.

The date of the foundation of the Order of the Thistle is not known, although legend has it that it was founded in 809 when King Achaius made an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne.
The patron saint of the Order of the Thistle is St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.  The breast star of the Order consists of a silver saltire with a pointed ray between each of the arms of the cross.   At the centre is a gold medallion which contains an enamelled representation of the thistle, surrounded by a green border bearing the Order’s motto which is “nemo me impune lacessit” (no one harms me with impunity).
The other Thistle knight to be appointed yesterday was Lord Patel of Dunkeld, a retired consultant obstetrician and academic.