|Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta|
|Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta|
|Reign||11 March 2008 – present|
|Predecessor||Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto (Acting)|
30 November 1949 |
Northumberland, United Kingdom
|Father||Sir Francis Wogan Festing|
|Mother||Mary Cecilia Riddell|
Robert Matthew Festing is the youngest of four sons born to Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing (Chief of the Imperial General Staff), a Roman Catholic convert (who became a Knight of Malta), and Mary Cecilia, née Riddell (elder daughter of Cuthbert David Giffard Riddell of Swinburne Castle, Northumberland). His father was the grandson of Colonel Francis Worgan Festing. His mother's family is an ancient English recusant family, descending from the Throckmorton baronets and Blessed Sir Adrian Fortescue, martyred in 1539. His three elder brothers are John Festing (a former High Sheriff of Northumberland), Major Michael Festing, and Andrew Festing (formerly President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters).
Education and career
Fra' Matthew attended Ampleforth College, before going up to St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Modern History. He was sponsored by the British Army in the rank of second lieutenant on a university cadetship whilst at Cambridge before being commissioned, on 23 July 1971, as an Ensign in the Grenadier Guards; his service number was 486330. Currently holding the rank of Colonel in the Territorial Army, Festing has also served as the County Cadet Commandant of Northumbria Army Cadet Force.
Fra' Matthew is Patron of the Sandhurst Foundation and Trustee to Northumbria Historic Churches. Until 2008, he was Sotheby's auction representative in Northumberland.
Order of Malta
Fra' Matthew was admitted to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1977. In 1991, he took perpetual vows, becoming a Knight of Justice. From 1993 to 2008 he served as Grand Prior of England, the first in this office since 1815.
On 11 March 2008, Fra' Matthew was elected Grand Master following a conclave-style meeting at the order's villa at Aventine Hill in Rome. Only the third English Grand Master of the Order of Malta, he is the immediate successor to the second, Fra' Andrew Bertie, the first being Hugh de Revel in 1258–59.
|Ancestors of Matthew Festing|
Prince and Grand Master Fra' Matthew Festing
|Reference style||His Most Eminent Highness|
|Spoken style||Your Most Eminent Highness|
Titles and style
The full title of Fra' Matthew is:
- His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, Most Humble Guardian of the Poor of Jesus Christ.
The Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta was the sovereign ruler of Malta from 1530 until 1798, and nowadays represents the Order's claim to sovereign status. The sovereign Prince was created ex officio a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1607 (as an honorary title, as the Prince and Grand Master was already a Head of State in his own right outside the Empire), as well as the style of Most Eminent Highness from the Pope in 1630, recognising his status as a Prince of the Church. In Catholic Church precedence Fra' Matthew is the highest-ranked officer following the Cardinals, and remains the only leader of an entity within the Catholic Church in modern times, apart from the Pope (as Sovereign of Vatican City State) and the Bishop of Urgell (as Co-Prince of Andorra), to be considered as an independent monarch: historically, many bishops (and archbishops) held sovereign-prince status.
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta:
- Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1998)
- Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John (GCSTJ) (5 May 2009)
- Territorial Decoration (TD) (1991);
- Collar of the Order of the Star of Romania (2008)
- Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Stars (14 October 2008)
- Knight Grand Cross with Collar Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (27 October 2008)
- Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (6 February 2009)
- Grand Cross of the Order of St. Charles (14 October 2009)
- Grand Collar of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword (2010)
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (2012)
- Member of the Grand Order of King Tomislav (12 October 2008)
- Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George:
- Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice with the Collar (2010)
- Knight Grand Cross of Justice (1994)
- Knight of Justice (1991)
- Knight of the Order of St Januarius (2010)
- Knight of the Order of St. Andrew 
- Knight of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky 
- Knight of the Order of the White Eagle 
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Anna 
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stanislaus.
- Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Holy Military Order of St. Stephen Pope and Martyr
- Grand Collar of the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Raja (3 March 2015) 
- Grand Collar Of the Order of Makarios III
- Knight of the Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (31 July 2015)
Crown appointment of the United Kingdom
- Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Northumberland
Honorary academic degrees
|District of Columbia||10 October 2009||Catholic University of America||Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) |
|Italy||12 May 2014||John Cabot University||Doctor of Public Service |
- Owen, Richard (11 March 2008). "Knights of Malta elect Englishman as new leader". The Times. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2008. (Archived: 12 May 2008)
- The London Gazette: . 6 September 1971. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
- Magyar Közlöny (17). 2009. Missing or empty
- Nomination by Sovereign Ordonnance n°2405 of 14 October 2009 (French)
- "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 1923. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- The Constantinian Order and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta - website of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Members of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George - website of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, Delegation of Great Britain and Ireland
- "Новости". Saintanna.Ru. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
- "Sacro Militare Ordine di Santo Stefano Papa e Martire". granducato.org. Retrieved 2015-02-22.
- Statement of President Aquino during the courtesy call of Fra’ Festing of the Order of Malta 
- "Real Decreto 754/2015, de 31 de julio, por el que se concede el Collar de la Orden de Isabel la Católica a Su Alteza Eminentísima Frey Matthew Festing, Príncipe y Gran Maestre de la Soberana Orden Militar de Malta". Boletin Oficial del Estado. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Matthew Festing (GM 79).|
- The Prince and Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing – Official website of the Sovereign Order of Malta
|Catholic Church titles|
Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto
|Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta