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Maids of Honour are the junior attendants of a queen in royal households. The position was and is junior to the lady-in-waiting. The equivalent title and office has historically been used in most European royal courts.
A maid of honour was a maiden, meaning that she had never been married, and was usually young and a member of the nobility. Maids of honour were commonly in their sixteenth year or older, although Lady Jane Grey served as a maid of honour to Queen Catherine Parr in about 1546-48, when Jane was only about ten to twelve years old. Under Mary I and Elizabeth I, maids of honour were at court as a kind of finishing school, with the hope of making a good marriage. Elizabeth Knollys was a maid of the court at the age of nine.
Some of the maids of honour were paid, while others were not. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the term maid of honour in waiting was sometimes used.
^Danish: Hoffrøken; French: Demoiselle d'honneur or Fille d'honneur; German: Hoffräulein; Russian: Hofdevitsa or Freïlina; Spanish: Meninas; Swedish: Hovfröken
^"No. 28570". The London Gazette. 9 January 1912. p. 209.:"Marlborough House, 1st January, 1912. Queen Alexandra has been graciously pleased to appoint Miss Ivy Gordon-Lennox to be one of the Maids of Honour to Her Majesty in the room of the Honourable Blanche Lascelles, resigned."