Diplomatic Impunity

Wouldn't you love to rub shoulders with a man who has been knighted by the Queen of England, honored by the Pope, and appointed our local Liberian ambassador? Of course you would!

What arrived in the mail was literally a paperback: a bound collection of photocopies. It was also thick, well researched, and, Algrant says, obviously written by Boada. (A person who knows Boada well but did not want to be identified confirms his authorship.) "It turned out to be quite worthwhile," Algrant notes with a chuckle. "He describes what he's doing, everything he's selling, and it all sounds like it is perfectly on the up-and-up. Mind you, I'm not saying he is doing anything illegal; it is just on the verge of doing something illegal."

Among the grantors of chivalric titles that the book recommended was the British-based Patriarchate of Antioch.

"Ostensibly it was an independent church of Eastern tradition and so forth and so on, which apparently felt it could dispense titles of chivalry, using as a legal basis that the Vatican does it, so why can't this church do it," explains Algrant. "Of course, when people asked where the church was located, nobody knew -- because everything came out of a P.O. box in London."

Pamphlets from the church revealed Boada's connection: The patriarch was said to be "aided by Antonio, Duke of Campobello," who was based at Queensgate Associates Ltd. -- the same firm that published Upward Nobility!

While the book has been out of print for some time, the church still appears to be open for business. The same cannot really be said for Albania, a chaotic East European nation where Boada founded the Albanian College of Arms in 1992. Not only did the college sell titles bestowed by the shaky Albanian government, it also confirmed -- for a price of $5000 or more -- the legitimacy of titles obtained from other governments. "In other words," says Algrant, "if you had a funny title from a so-called Byzantine prince and everybody who knows about titles was laughing up their sleeves because it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on, then you could have gone to the Albanian College of Arms to get a confirmation of this thing. One phony was confirming the other!"

Algrant penned a lengthy refutation of Boada's Albanian enterprise, which he posted on a Website devoted to matters of chivalry. Without directly naming Boada, Algrant's article describes the college's founder as "a foreigner, with no background in heraldry, genealogy, or in comparative nobiliary law." In a second paper, posted on a similar Website, Algrant euphemistically calls Boada "a fast Cuban-Dutch gentleman."

Algrant says he last heard of Boada about four years ago, when an internal bulletin of a private organization called the Spanish College of Arms announced Boada's resignation.

The Press Release Deconstructed
William Addams Reitwiesner, head of the European Genealogy Section of the Library of Congress, is dubious about Boada's reference to his supposed ex-wife, the Princess von Schonaich-Carolath. "Not only can I not confirm or deny the marriage, I can't confirm or deny that anybody named Princess Anna Maria von Schonaich-Carolath even exists," says Reitwiesner, who notes that of the 26 living members of the Schonaich-Carolath family alive in 1984, not one of them was named Anna Maria. "True, that's not all that recent," he muses, "but I would presume that anybody who's old enough to currently have been married would have been born by then."

The Knights of Malta, known in this country as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, is the oldest and the most prestigious of all orders of chivalry, dating back to 1070. Exclusive and highly secretive, the Knights' membership comprises rich Catholics (among them Lee Iacocca) who are committed to charity, spiritual growth, and church doctrine.

Boada says he is affiliated with "an ecumenical branch" of the Knights and that he was named commander while living in the Netherlands. "Now, when you get involved in Europe and you have a title like a dukedom, suddenly you're called to do a lot of things from all different quarters and you don't even know why," he explains. "But one begets the other. I was the Duke of Campobello, the Marques de Alessio, and um, then I was offered this and I took it because it was ecumenical.

"And then I decided to move over here and they said, 'Well, all right, we'll let you leave the, you know, commander or whatever for the Netherlands. Can you head the thing up in the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and so on?' So I ended up being that."

In The Orders of Saint John, Guy Stair Sainty delves into the issue of the numerous "self-styled" orders of the Knights of Malta. Boada's order, according to Sainty, is not one of the five recognized Knights of Malta orders.

In at least two cases, Sainty adds, people have been criminally prosecuted for selling bogus knighthoods in orders that they concocted themselves. The problem, he writes, seems most acute in North America: "Despite the fact that generations of impoverished Europeans bearing both genuine and false titles have come to the United States and Canada to improve their fortunes with nothing other than their social pretensions to assist them, Americans seem particularly susceptible to accepting the most bizarre and unfounded claims by pseudo-princes and dukes whose claim to such title could be verified in most major reference libraries."

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