The Order Today
The International Order of St. Hubertus is an international fraternal organization with a prestigious, largely European, history spanning several centuries. The members of the Order devote themselves to traditional hunting and fishing pursuits, the improvement of wildlife habitat and the conservation of game species.
The IOSH is headed by a Grand Master, currently, his Imperial Highness Archduke Istvan von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria, and its ‘Protector’ is His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain. Archduke Istvan is supported in his governance of the Order by the officers of the Grand Chapter. The Grand Chapter is composed of the ‘Grand Priors’, or leaders of the national jurisdictions in which the Order is established, members of the staff of the Grand Chapter and three Counselors.
The Grand Master and Grand Chapter supervise Chapters in Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Scotland, the Czech Republic and the Benelux countries in Europe. In the Americas, Chapters are located in the United States, Mexico, Argentina and a chapter is presently in formation in Canada. A chapter is also presently in formation in the Union of South Africa. The traditional headquarters of the Order is the principal residence of the Grand Master, currently the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
The total membership of approximately 700 is divided into Ordensbrothers and Squires, with the latter being applicants approved for induction. The largest of the Chapters is the United States with something more than 300 Ordensbrothers and Squires who are divided among six regional ‘Priories’.
Each Chapter conducts a variety of activities within its jurisdiction and coordinates with the Grand Chapter to host sporting excursions and an annual Investiture celebration. Interchanges between Chapters are fairly common and some, like the United States and Mexico, maintain close ties.
The leading social event each year is the Investiture weekend during which Squires are inducted or ‘knighted’ as ‘Ordensbrothers’. There is at least one investiture weekend each year, generally in the United States although Spain, Portugal and Mexico have had recent Investitures. In addition to the formal gala and the dining and touring events that grace the weekend, the Investiture ceremony itself is a white-tie and tails formal event.
While the International Order is not a religious organization, the Investiture ceremony generally is held in a Catholic Cathedral and observes limited, non-denominational rites. Prominently featured in the proceedings is a relic of St. Hubertus dating from the seventh-century that was authenticated in the nineteenth century by authorities appointed by the Catholic Church. The relic is accompanied by a magnificent collection of imperial German and Austrian hunting trophies that are displayed in the Cathedral during the ceremony.
The International Order of St. Hubertus grows by invitation only and, although recent years have witnessed an increase in membership, the Order has no aspiration to expand to sizable proportions. The Grand Master intends to add chapters in the Americas and in European nations selectively in the years ahead.