Tirana, October 2016. HRH Crown Prince Leka II of the Albanians was invested by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Castro into the Royal Order of Francis I to the honour and dignity of Knight Grand Cross.
The special ceremony was held on Sunday 9 October 2016 at the Royal Residence in Tirana. The Secretary General of the Royal Order of Francis I, Anthony Bailey, attended.
The investiture ceremony followed the visit of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Castro on the occasion of the Royal Wedding of HRH Crown Prince Leka II with Miss Elia Zaharia on 8 October 2016.
The Constantinian Order of St George has a longstanding connection with Albania dating back to the ancient Illyrian roots of the Emperor Constantine; to the Albanian national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg who revitalized the ties between the Royal House of Two Sicilies and Albania in the sixteenth century.
Since 1999 the Constantinian Order has undertaken various charitable and humanitarian projects in Albania. TRH The Duke and Duchess of Castro visited Albania in 2000 as part of a UNICEF – Constantinian Order joint charitable initiative to help vulnerable people and communities in the country.
In December 2013, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Castro, the Grand Prior, HE Renato Raffaele, Cardinal Martino, and the Delegate, Mr Anthony Bailey, headed a high level delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian to Albania from 2-3 December 2013.
During the visit the President of the Republic of Albania held a reception in honour of the Grand Master, Grand Prior and the Delegate. An official dinner was held in honour of the delegation which was attended by the President and First Lady of Albania, the then Mayor of Tirana, HRH Crown Prince Leka II Zogu, Members of Parliament, religious leaders, ambassadors and heads of international NGO’s.
On 8 October 2016 HRH The Duchess of Castro visited and donated school supplies to the “Zyber Halluli” orphanage in Tirana in support of the charitable project that was initiated in 2000 and continued in 2013.
The Constantinian Order has worked closely with the Albanian community and religious leaders to promote the country’s inter-religious harmony. During the visits to Albania, the Grand Master, Grand Prior and the Delegate have paid courtesy calls on a number of religious dignitaries including Mr Selim Buca, Head of the Muslim Community and Baba Edmond Brahimaj, Spiritual Head of the Bektashi Order, the Primate of Albania and the head of the Albanian Orthodox Church His Eminence Anastasios of Tirana, Durrës and Albania. The Delegation also paid visits to several prominent places of worship in Tirana such as St Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Evangelist, which is Europe’s third largest Orthodox Church, and the historic Et’hem Bey Mosque.