King Francesco (Francis) I of the Two Sicilies (left) ruled the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies briefly from 1825 until his death in 1830. As Duke of Calabria (the title of the Heir Apparent), King Francesco was an exemplary military officer and regularly acted as the official representative of his father, King Ferdinando I, visiting remote regions of the Kingdom. His reign was a peaceful one and particularly prosperous period of Neapolitan history. Historians generally regard King Francesco I as a devoted husband and father, though they rarely ascribe any special merit to his actions as sovereign in his short time on the Throne of what was then the wealthiest and most powerful of the various Italian monarchical states.
The growing prosperity of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was certainly one of the factors motivating the Sovereign to institute in 1829 an Order of Knighthood to reward those whose efforts had contributed to that same prosperity.
The Grand Masters of the Royal Order of Francis I have included King Francesco I of the Two Sicilies (1829-1830); his son King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies (1830-1859); his son King Francesco II of the Two Sicilies (1859-1894); his brother Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta, later Duke of Castro (1894-1931); his son Prince Ferdinando Pio, Duke of Castro (1931-1960); his brother Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro (1960-1966); and his son, Prince Ferdinando, Duke of Castro (1966-2008), and the current Head of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies is HRH Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro (born 1963).