A junior prince of the Two Sicilies dynasty, HRH Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies (whose assumed title of Duke of Castro has been recognized by the Duke of Calabria), claims to be Grand Master of the Constantinian Order and Head of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, in place of the legitimate Grand Master, HRH Prince Don Pedro, Duke of Calabria.
The Duke of Castro’s mistaken claim to be Constantinian Grand Master can be disposed of quickly.
HRH Prince Pedro, Duke of Calabria, is the senior descendant by male primogeniture of Ferdinand I, Constantinian Grand Master and King of the Two Sicilies, and is thus the Constantinian Grand Master. (See the response above to the question “How is the Grand Master chosen?”). The Duke of Castro, as a member of a cadet line of the dynasty, is today only 6th in the line of male primogeniture descent from Ferdinand I.
The Castro claim derives from an unfortunate dispute within the Two Sicilies dynasty that dates back more than 60 years. In 1960, the undisputed Head of the Two Sicilies Royal House and undisputed Constantinian Grand Master, Prince Don Ferdinand Pio, Duke of Calabria, died without surviving male issue. His next brother, Prince Don Carlo, had died before him, leaving one surviving son, Prince Don Alfonso, Infante of Spain, who succeeded as dynastic head and Duke of Calabria (and was immediately recognized as such by the Heads of the Royal Houses of Spain, Parma and Portugal, among others). A junior prince of the Two Sicilies dynasty, Prince Rainieri (grandfather of the present Duke of Castro), challenged the dynastic succession. Rainieri claimed to have become both dynastic head and Constantinian grand master.
As has already been explained, any claim that the Constantinian Order grand mastership is united with the Two Sicilies Crown is entirely mistaken. (See the response above to the question “How is the Grand Master chosen?”).
The Duke of Castro’s claim to be Head of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, while also mistaken, is more complicated to address. A detailed treatment of the flaws in his claim is beyond the scope of this website, which is dedicated to the Constantinian Order, but a brief mention of a couple of key points may be helpful to the reader.
The Castro claim derives from a declaration, called the Act of Cannes, signed in 1900 by HRH Prince Carlo of the Two Sicilies, great-grandfather of the current Grand Master, HRH Prince Pedro, shortly before Carlo’s marriage to the Princess of the Asturias, the heiress to the throne of Spain. In essence, as discussed below, the Act of Cannes specified that Prince Carlo renounced his eventual rights to the Two Sicilies Crown in the event he were to become King Consort of Spain.
King Charles III of Spain in his Pragmatic Decree of 1759 confirmed the right of all his male line descendants to both thrones, but prohibited the union of the Spanish Crown with that of the Two Sicilies in one person, in order to preserve the European balance of power. The Act of Cannes expressly stated that it was signed “in execution of the Pragmatic Decree [of 1759]”, and “in accord with the laws and customs of our family” which merely prohibited the union of the two crowns. The Act of Cannes was intended to address a possible future event: what would happen if the Princess of the Asturias became Queen Regnant of Spain and her husband Don Carlo King Consort of Spain and at the same time King of the Two Sicilies. If this condition were to occur, Don Carlo would have had to renounce his Two Sicilies rights to a younger son. (There were many instances of marriages between princes and princesses of both kingdoms between 1759 and 1960 without any consideration of the possibility that these might prejudice the rights of their descendants. In 1900, weeks before Carlo’s marriage, the Spanish Minister of Justice had stated in the Spanish parliament, the Cortes, that there was no need for any renunciations by either Prince Don Carlo or his future wife, and if one was made it would in any case by null and void.) It should also be pointed out that the purpose of the 1759 Decree was to prevent the union of two sovereignties, of Spain and the Two Sicilies, and that the Crown of the Two Sicilies had ceased to exist in 1860; there was no mention of the position of head of the royal house in the Act of Cannes.
In the event, the Princess of the Asturias never became Queen of Spain and her husband never became King Consort. Therefore, the possible event on which the conditional renunciation of Prince Carlo was predicated never came to pass. Thus, the Act of Cannes did not prejudice any of the Two Sicilies rights of Prince Carlo and his descendants. A conditional declaration is of no effect if the condition on which it is based does not occur.
It is important to note that the Act of Cannes pertains solely to the Two Sicilies succession and has no relevance to the separate position of Grand Master of the Constantinian Order, which is not even mentioned in the 1900 text.
Some of the most prominent legal scholars of various countries have analyzed the Act of Cannes and come to the same conclusion: namely, that it did not remove any of the Two Sicilies rights of Prince Carlo and his descendants. For those who wish to read further about this issue, click here for a publication of the Spanish government, the Boletin Oficial del Estado – see page 477 and following for the report of the Spanish Council of State): https://www.boe.es/biblioteca_juridica/abrir_pdf.php?id=PUB-DH-2019-149_2
The legality of the succession of Prince Don Pedro’s father, the late Prince and Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria, to the Headship of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies and the Constantinian Grand Mastership was in 1983 and 1984 investigated by five of the highest Spanish State bodies, and all (headed by the Council of State) reported unanimously to the King of Spain that Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria was the legitimate heir to both dignities. For those who wish to read further about these investigations, click here for the reports of the five Spanish Institutions of State (the Institute of Heraldry and Genealogy; the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; and the Council of State): [ADD LINK]
More recently, on 28 November 2014 the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared the Constantinian Order and the Order of St. Januarius to be “under the protection and historically tied to the Crown of Spain” and on 2 June 2017 a further declaration by the Ministry confirmed that the Constantinian Order and the Order of St Januarius are “historically tied to the Crown of Spain”. This “historic” tie was because King Charles III of Spain was Constantinian grand master even after he became King of Spain (he succeeded as King of Spain on 10 August 1759 and resigned as Constantinian grand master on 16 October 1759), and he retained the grand mastership of the Order of St. Januarius (which he had founded in 1738) until December 1766.