|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
|Mother||Mary Cecilia Riddell|
Festing succeeded his compatriot Andrew Bertie, only the second Englishman to have served as Grand Master of the Order of Malta since 1259.
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 mother's family is an ancient English recusant family, descending from the 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 Acting-Colonel of the 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|
Titles, styles and honours
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, recognizing 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, to be considered as an independent monarch (as sovereign of Vatican City): historically, many bishops (and archbishops) held sovereign-prince status.
Honours and decorations
- Sovereign Order of Malta
- Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1998)
- Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John (GCSTJ) (14 December 2010)
- Territorial Decoration (TD) (1991);
- Grand Cross with Sash 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 and Chain of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (6 February 2009)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Charles (14 October 2009)
- Grand Collar of the Order of Sant'Iago da Espada (2010)
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (2012);
- Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav (12 October 2008)
- Collar and Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Knight of the Order of St Januarius
- 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 (03 March 2015) 
- Grand Collar Of the Order of Makarios III
UK Crown appointment
- Honorary 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. 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.
- "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 
|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