Matthew Festing, an
Englishman, was elected Prince and Grand Master of the Order of
Malta on 11th March 2008 by the Council Complete of State of the
Order of Malta. He succeeds Fra Andrew Bertie, 78th Grand Master
(1988-2008), who died on 7 February 2008.
Born in Northumberland on 30 November 1949, educated at Ampleforth
and St. Johns College Cambridge, where he read history, Fra Matthew
Festing, an art expert, has for most of his professional life worked
at an international art auction house. As a child he lived in Egypt
and Singapore, where his father, Field Marshal Sir Francis Festing,
Chief of the Imperial General Staff, had earlier postings. He is
also descended from Sir Adrian Fortescue, a knight of Malta, who was
martyred in 1539.
Fra Matthew Festing served in the Grenadier Guards and holds the
rank of colonel in the Territorial Army. He was appointed OBE
(Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen and served
as one of her Deputy Lieutenants in the county of Northumberland.
He became a member of the Sovereign Order of Malta in 1977, and took
solemn religious vows in 1991, becoming a Professed Knight of the
Order. Between 1993 and 2008 he was the Grand Prior of England. In
this role, he led missions of humanitarian aid to Kosovo, Serbia and
Croatia, and headed the British delegation at the Orders annual
international pilgrimage to Lourdes.
It has long been the practice of Grand Masters of the Order to
quarter their personal arms with those of the Order as is depicted
here. The arms are displayed upon the Orderís eight-pointed Latin
Cross and are surrounded by the Collar, symbol of the Grand Master,
within a princely mantle and surmounted by a closed crown.