OVERVIEW OF THE ROYAL ORDER OF FRANCIS I
As the ancient Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George is only awarded to those professing the Catholic Faith and who are in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church, a separate Order of Knighthood was founded in 1829.
Whereas certain other orders were solely Roman Catholic in nature, characterised by religious rites of investiture redolent of the Age of Chivalry, the Royal Order of Francis I exemplified the “civil” form of knighthood devoid of such trappings, being similar in this respect to most Orders of Merit which exist today. Like the Constantinian Order of Saint George, it remains an internationally recognised dynastic institution and officers in many countries may wear the insignia on their uniforms.
— The Grand Master of the Order is His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro.
— The Grand Chancellor is Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of Bourbon Two Sicilies.
— The Secretary General of the Order is His Excellency Sir Anthony Bailey.
The Royal Order of Francis I is bestowed upon worthy individuals regardless of nationality or creed who have contributed to public life, science, the arts, agriculture, and commerce. The Order also plays a significant role in recognising those that have contributed to inter-faith and inter-church dialogue and understanding. All principal faiths and dominations are represented at both delegation and international level including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish leaders. Members include Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Royals, Patriarchs, Cardinals, Archbishops, Ministers, parliamentarians, charity workers and business leaders.
Today, the knights and dames of the Order of Francis I, together with the members of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order, support and actively participate in the order’s national and international humanitarian, hospitaller and charity initiatives and projects.
The Order is divided it into six ranks: Knight Grand Cross, Dame Grand Cross, Knight Commander, Dame Commander, Knight and Dame.
The decoration is formed by a Greek cross with four dovetailed arms, enamelled in white, and showing in the middle a golden shield with the initials F.I. topped by the crown and surrounded by an oak garland enamelled in green and red and edged by a blue ribbon with the motto “DE REGE OPTIME MERITO” in golden letters, with four lilies in each corner and a golden Royal Crown on top. On the verso, golden shield bearing the inscription “FRANCISCUS I INSTITUIT MDCCCXXIX”, bordered by an oak garland enamelled in green and red.