New Statement from the Serbian Crown April 2003.
The Claims of one of the several "King Peter" Orders
The so-called "King Peter Order" now led by Prince Karl Vladimir, Nephew of King Peter, was formed in 1987, by Anthony Zammit who fell out with Karl's father, Prince Andrej, who was a Grand Master of one of the so-called "King Peter Orders" which itself resulted from the fragmentation of the Order as led by the exiled King Peter of Yugoslavia from 1965 up until his death in 1970.
Various of these King Peter Orders have been claiming, or presently claim to be a 'dynastic' continuation of the Order as led by the King. However it can be noted that any evidence that supports such a view only emerged after the King's death - even those documents purported to be signed by King Peter. The King Peter Constitution of 1964 only allows for the Head of the Yugoslavian Royal House to be the "Hereditary Protector" of an Order which claimed (mythically) a pre-history going back to the Russian Grand Priory of the Order as founded by Paul I of Russia!
The real beginnings of the 'King Peter Order' can be traced back to Charles Pichel in the USA, who had created an Order of St John in the mid 1950s and gained for it Corporation status in 1956 in Delaware. Pichel gave his Order a mythical pre-history (1908 and earlier), as part of the Russian tradition. In 1962, Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac, Lieutenant Grand Master of the Pichel Order broke with Pichel to form his own branch (as is normal with such schisms - the de Cassagnac group claimed to be the legitimate continuation!). In 1963, de Cassagnac had invited King Peter to be the Royal Protector. In 1965, supporters of King Peter had elected him as Grand Master, asking de Cassagnac to step down as leader, which he did not! The King then via a Post Card resigned from the de Cassagnac Order and formed his own Order (and yet also claiming to be the continuing Order)! The King's own Order "of St John", was different from the "Orders" of Pichel and de Cassagnac. The difference was Peter's Kingship, from which flowed a fons honorum (fount of honour) so his Knights were Knights, and his Order was a true Chivalric Order - but not (despite the claims) an historic Johannine Order!
In the Constitution signed by King Peter for his Order, there is no place for Junior Royals. Thus even the King Peter Constitution as adopted by the various King Peter groups does not make the so-called "Order" or "Orders" dynastic Yugoslavian/Serbian Orders!
Although Zammit had sought the removal of Prince Andrej as Grand Master, by some irony, one of his sons consented to be the Protector to the Zammit group in September 1990, and then became the Grand Master in 2001 after Zammit had died. In the minds of the adherents to this self-styled Order, having a Junior Royal of the Yugoslavia House as Protector/Grand Master somehow reinvests the "Order" with the fons honorum lost when King Peter died in 1970 - this also ignores the fact that other King Peter Orders (those not led by Prince Karl Vladimir) may have a stronger claim to be direct continuations of the Order as led by the King!
In February 1992, Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, in letter addressed to the Episcopalian Bishop of San Francisco, wrote;
There has been some suggestion that, following the appointment of Prince Karl Vladimir to lead the Zammit Order, the attitude of the Head of the Royal House, Crown Prince Alexander has shifted and that he has softened his views, and has accepted Karl Vladimir as representing the Royal House, thus legitimising the Zammit filiant of the Pichelian/Petrine Order, much in the same way that King Peter legitimised a schismatic element of a Pichelian self-styled Order! This is not the case, and in recent correspondence the Head of the House states that the position remains the same as it did in 1992; namely this; that no member of the Royal House has permission from the Crown to be involved in any official way within one or more orders of knighthood derived or claiming to had been derived from the Sovereign Order of Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem.
Dear Mr. Pincket,
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Aleksandar II commanded me to answer your query and to thank you for the kind interest for issues concerning Serbian Monarchy.
No member of the Royal House requested or received permission from the Crown to involve in any official way within one or more orders of knighthood derived or claiming to had been derived from the Sovereign Order of Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusalem.
Position of the Crown in respect of particular historical and legal rights and interest of Sovereign Order and its historical emanations (i.e. Venerable Order, Johanniterorden, etc.) has not changed since 1992.
Dear Mr. Pincket, please do accept expressions of my highest regards.
Dragomir Acovic, Privy Council of the Crown
Order of St John, Knights Hospitaller.