As a sovereign entity, the SMOM appoints representatives to many international organisations. It has Permanent Observer status at the United Nations and is often involved in the work of various UN agencies. The photograph shows the Order’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations meeting the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.more
After their expulsion from the Holy Land, the Knights of St John settled briefly in Cyprus before moving to Rhodes. When they lost the island after a lengthy Ottoman siege in 1523, they moved to Malta, where they stayed for nearly three centuries before being ousted by Napoleon. Eventually, in 1834, the Order established its headquarters in the...more
His Most Eminent Highness Fra Andrew Bertie is the 78th Prince and Grand Master of the SMOM since the Order was founded just over 900 years ago. He was born in England, of aristocratic descent, in 1929. He served as an officer in the Scots Guards and subsequently taught French and Spanish for more than 20 years at a private school in England. He...more
It’s hard to find a rarer vehicle number plate than those of the SMOM in Rome. Of course, if you walk through the courtyard of the Palazzo di Malta, you may see two or three vehicles with SMOM plates. And if he’s not on one of his frequent courtesy calls to the Vatican or other embassies in Rome, you may even see the Grand Master’s heavy black...more
No, there isn't an airline with that name. And they can't call it Air Malta since that is the national carrier of the island republic in the Mediterranean. The symbol of the Order has nevertheless appeared on many aircraft over the years. War, famine, humanitarian crisis: the Order of Malta has always been ready to fly with aid and assistance to...more
Stamps are about the only thing you can buy at the Palazzo di Malta. The SMOM probably has the smallest postal service in the world. As far as old Cliffie could see, the whole system has only two boxes for posting mail. The Order’s post office, round the corner from the main entrance of the Palazzo di Malta, provides a colourful range of stamps, often with religious or heraldic themes. They are probably of more interest to collectors than to postcard senders, since the Order has postal agreements with only about a third of the world’s countries. For example, you can use SMOM stamps to send mail to San Marino but not to Italy, and to Canada but not to the United States.
There are neverending arguments about just how “sovereign” the SMOM is, and whether it can really claim to be a “country” when it has no territory apart from a couple of buildings in Rome. But there can be no arguing that the Order really does exist. What you have to be careful about is all those other “orders” which buy a few funny hats, bells and whistles and claim to be sovereign orders of here, there, or somewhere else. You’ll find lots of them on the Internet. Money can buy many things, but a hundred dollars to a dodgy outfit in New Jersey will not make you a Knight of Malta.
If you are in one of the world’s hotspots, you can be fairly certain to find the Order of Malta providing medical care and comfort. For many years the Order has been providing aid to Afghanistan, and in Kosovo at the end of the 1990s the Order established field hospitals to care for local people caught up in the troubles of the province.more
Go back to the early days of the Knights of St John, and this is where you would certainly have met them. The Krak des Chevaliers is probably the most famous, and certainly the most impressive, crusader castle. The crusaders built fortresses and castles all over the lands they held for about two centuries at the eastern end of the Mediterranean....more
And why is this page under Latvia? Well, old Cliffie didn't want to put it under the island republic in the Mediterranean. And there is a place called Malta in Latvia. And Latvia is the only one of the 25 Member States of the European Union which old Cliffie hasn't visited.
(Update April 2005 - but now he has!)
(Update January 2007 - and now there are 27 Member States, and yes, he has visited them all!)