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Great Britain. The first known British subject to be invested into the Sacred Military
Constantinian Order of Saint George was Captain William D’Arley, who
received the decoration from King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies in 1801.
In 1810, Sir John Crr was invested into the Order’s ranks as were several
members of the Winspeare and Acton families who had close ties to the
Royal Neapolitan Court
in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1883, the industrialist and
inventor, Sir Edward Thomason, was received into the Order’s ranks.
In the first 75 years of the 20th century the Anglo-Neapolitan families of Acton and Winspeare were again the mainstay of the Constantinian Order in Great Britain. Sir Harold Acton, famous for his two-volume history of the Bourbons of Naples, became a Constantinian knight. In 1975, Major-General Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, Viscount Furness, John Brooke-Little and Sir Conrad Swan, were honoured with investiture into the Order.
A national association was formed with Lord Mowbray, Segrave and Stourton, as its president who remained as Delegate until 2000. (1988-1992 Dr Colin Smythe served as the Delegation Chargé d’Affaires). Members of the Recusant aristocracy were among those invested including the late Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, HMEH Frà Andrew Bertie, and late Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, who became a medallist of the Order.
The Delegation and its activities grew further still from 2000 onwards under delegates HE The Lord Belhaven and Stenton (2000-2003), HE Mr Anthony Bailey (2003-2006) and HE The Lord Brennan of Bibury
Today among our membership is HMEH Frà Matthew Festing, current Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Sister Ellen Flynn of the Passage Homeless Centre, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, The Duchess of Norfolk, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar Peter Caruana, QC, Captain Peregrine Bertie, the Earl of Errol!, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC, Rt Hon Paul Murphy, MP, and former MP Ann Widdecombe. The senior dame of the Delegation is HRH Princess Michael of Kent.
Within the Royal Order of Francis I, which is not exclusively Roman Catholic in nature, are foreign royalty, a former prime minister, charity workers, artists, cabinet ministers, barristers, academics, inter-faith leaders, businessmen and Members of Parliament. Among them are the current and former Archbishops of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and Lord Carey of Clifton, The Duke of Westminster, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, Sir Sigmund Sternberg, Baroness Thatcher, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, as well as a number of Ambassadors accredited to the Court of St James’s.
Ireland. The first known Irishman to be invested into the Constantinian Order was Benedotto Harvey who was appointed a Knight of Grace in 1728. The late Denis O’Conor Don descendant of the dynasty that ruled as High Kings of Ire land until the Anglo-Norman conquest at the end of the twelfth century was member together with members of the old Gaelic nobility, the Order of Malta, the clergy, parliamentarians and leading businessmen.
In 2004, President Mary McAleese of Ireland was awarded the Collar of the Constantinian Order at a ceremony at Aras an Uachtaràin, and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, TD, then President of the European Council, was also honoured. Other knights include HE Donal Downes, President of the Association of Papal Orders in Ireland, Joe McDonnell, former Lieutenant of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Dáithi O’CeallaIgh, former Ambassador of Ireland to the Court of James’s. Current Irish knights of the Royal Order of Francis I include businessman Sir Michael Smurfit and the former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Lord Alderdice.
Adopted Charities. The Delegation of Great Britain and Ireland supports numerous worthy charities and organisations and observes the Order’s feast days, particularly the Feast of Saint George (23 April), and the Glorification of the Cross (14 September). Among the charitable causes supported in Britain are: The Passage Homeless Centre, St Thomas Fund, St Dunstan’s, Westminster Cathedral, Tyburn Convent and Shrine, the Apostolic Nunciature in Serbia, the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, the Forthspring Inter-Community Group in Belfast, the DePaul Trust of Ireland and Citywise.