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"Sir Knights! The tournament to which we gather today is to us traditional; a rite of antiquity and a monument of ancient generations....We like to think that when our forefathers, offspring of men who established chivalry, came from overseas, they brought with them not only this ancient play, but the precepts it an age when the greed of gold was never so dazzling, the spirit of true gallantry has not faded but blooms luxuriant in the heart of the commonwealth... Most noble Knights! In the name of that high tradition which this day preserves! In the memory of those other knights who practiced the tourney in its old-time glory! In the sight of your Queen of Beauty! I charge you, Southern gentlemen, to joust with that valor, fairness and truth which are the enduring glories of the knighthood of Virginia."

Charge to the Knights from "The Valiants of Virginia"
a novel by Hallie Erminie Rives, 1912

The pageantry of a well-orchestrated opening ceremony requires thorough planning on the part of the tournament host. The competing Knights and Maids ride before the judges stand in parade fashion, usually to the music of a Queen & King classical march provided by a local band. In the absence of a band, a portable cassette player wired into the public address system will do nicely. The riders may carry all sorts of flags and banners representing their states, counties or clubs. The riders then line up before the announcer's stand for the playing of the National Anthem. They are then blessed, duly charged and generally wished well by any number of dignitaries who may be present. The privilege of delivering the "Charge to the Knights" is decidedly the highest honor of the day. Some of the more famous charges have been given by such figures in history as Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and more recently President George Bush. Most charges include references to the glories of days gone by, and commands to the riders to compete with sportsmanship and to uphold the ideals of chivalry. Tournaments have always been favorite haunts of politicians, especially in an election year. Above all, there is the fervent wish among the riders and spectators under a blazing summer sun, that the speaker will not be too long-winded.

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Last updated: November 23, 2018.