For the Faith and in the Service of Humanity
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The constitution of the Order is to be found in the Royal Charter, Statutes, and Regulations of the Order and Instructions issued by the Grand Council.
There have been several Royal Charters since Queen Victoria granted the initial Charter of 1888. Royal Charters granted in 1955 and 1974 are currently in force.
The Statutes of the Order are governed by the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Regulations are made by the Grand Prior and Grand Council Instructions are made by the Grand Council.
The reigning monarch of the United Kingdom is the Sovereign Head of the Order, and the Grand Prior of the Order is always another senior member of the British Royal Family. His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester has held this role since 1974.
In addition to the Grand Prior there are up to five other Great Officers who all have particular roles in relation to different aspects of the Order worldwide.
The governing body of the Order worldwide is its Grand Council. The members of the Grand Council are the Grand Prior and the other Great Officers, the Priors or Chancellors of each of the Priories, and the Hospitaller of the Order, who is the head of The St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital foundation. Four members of St. John Associations – different in each year – are also invited to be present at meetings of the Grand Council and to participate fully in its deliberations.
The Great Officers and the Grand Council are supported by the Secretary-General, who heads a small Secretariat in London.
Each of the Priories, Commanderies and St John Associations have their own constitutions. They are subject to the Charter, Statutes and Regulations of the Order, but within that they have a wide degree of autonomy.