THE GRAND MASTER
His Excellency Don Carlos Gereda de Borbón, Marqués de Almazán, was elected 49th Grand Master of the Order at a Chapter General held in Manchester in October 2008.
The Grand Master was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, where his parents lived after the Spanish Civil War, looking after a country estate they had inherited. At an early age he returned to Spain before being sent to school in England. He went first to Ladycross Preparatory School, Seaford, Sussex, and subsequently to the famous Benedictine public school of Downside, near Bath. During his school days, apart from academic studies, he practised many sports, with (in his own words) "... more enthusiasm than outstanding performance!" After school he returned to Madrid to take a University Degree in Industrial Engineering.
In 1975 he began a career as a commercial development entrepreneur rather than a practising engineer. In this capacity he travelled all over the world, negotiating a variety of business with many different cultures, from the Far East to South America and Central Europe. After over twenty years he decided to reduce his professional connitments and now has no contract that ties him to any specific work, although he still gives certain companies and institutions the benefit of his international experience. The most important project with which he is currently involved is the establishment of a Museum or centre of Science and Leisure in Malaga. Don Carlos hopes that, occupying more than 20,000 square metres, it will be the most important of its sort in the Mediterranean.
He and his wife, Blanche, lived in Buenos Aires from 1979 to 1986, where, apart from the activities mentioned above, they established a small Oil Services Company which is still operating today.
His hobbies include astronomy, motorcar mechanics (in particular, classic cars) – he is currently involved in the design and production of a series of Bentley specials – and classical music. In this last field he and Blanche organise "at home" concerts with talented young Spanish pianists and chamber music ensembles.
The Grand Master's title of Almazán was awarded in 1575 by Philip II of Spain to Francisco Hurtado de Mendoza, 3rd Count of Monteagudo de Mendoza. His position in the Bourbon family is established from the line of the Duke of Santa Elena, his grandfather, second in rank to the Duke of Seville, his cousin, both of whom are descendants of Charles IV of Spain, and Henry, Duke of Seville. This branch is considered second in nobility only to the Spanish Royal Family. Don Carlos' wife is a descendant of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg.
The Grand Master's involvement with the Order has always been very dear to him since his grandfather and great-grandfather were both members, and in 2007 it was with great pride that he was received into the Order as a member of the Grand Priory of Spain. Until then his professional activities had made it impossible for him to give the commitment to the Order which he would have wished, but he now hopes to be able to be in a position to make a valuable contribution to the Order's work and promote its charitable activities worldwide.
Both the Grand Master and his wife are devout Roman Catholics but strong supporters of ecumenism. It is the Grand Master's express desire to attract more young people into the Order, to enhance international projects with co-financing, and to concentrate on the relief and rehabilitation of leprosy sufferers worldwide. While not wishing to neglect the work which jurisdictions carry out locally, Don Carlos feels it is important to widen our Christian duties to those in need, especially in the Holy Land.