It was after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 that many members of the Order, who were gathered in the United States, did everything possible to breathe new life into the Grand Priory of Russia, reconstituted in 1928 under the same Grand Duke Alexander and later by Prince Serge Trubetzkoy.
Grand Duke Alexander died in 1933 and for about thirty years only Lieutenant Grand Masters were elected. In the meantime, the headquarters were moved to Shickshinny, Pennsylvania and Colonel Charles L. Thourot Pichel was elected the Grand Chancellor of the Order.
On 13 January 1934, His Imperial Majesty Grand Duke Cirillo, the Head of the House of Romanoff, confirmed the admission to the Order of a French baron with a complementary act, previously introduced by decree of the deceased czar Nicholas II.
On 24 November 1936, with decree no. 203, Grand Duke Cirillo Wladimirovic presented the gold medal of “Zeal and Assistance” to Col. Charles L. Thourot Pichel, for his role as the Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.
The Royal House of Aragón, who had always provided the Order with most eminent Grand Masters, had in the meantime confirmed its protection of the Order in the person of Don Francesco Paternò Castello.
Only in 1966 was a new Grand Master elected: Prince Crolian William Edelen de Burgh.
It is to be mentioned that under the chancellery of Col. Pichel, Charles Habib Malik (already President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, President of the Security Council of the same, of the Commission for Human Rights and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon) became a Knight and later Secretary of State of the Order.
Thanks to his efforts, the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem – the Knights of Malta – was given Observer status in the Assembly of the United Nations in New York on 3 February 1961. The Order declined this recognition as it held itself a Sovereign State and thus would only accept recognition as an Effective Member of the Assembly.
While waiting to be able to fly the flag of the Order over a territory over which it might exercise sovereignty, the headquarters was moved to Malta in 1976. On 1 October of the same year, the 73rd Grand Master, H.R.H. Prince Don Roberto II Paternò Castello of Carcaci Ayerbe-Aragona, was elected.
Don Roberto Paternò is the heir of the Royal House of Ayerbe-Aragona mentioned in Bourbon documents of 1835 and 1859. This demonstrates the original legal reasons of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem – Knights of Malta, which prohibits distortions and alterations of the historical truth. At the premature death of Grand Chancellor T. Wildund, successor to Col. Pichel, a long uncomfortable period caused H.R.H. Prince Don Roberto II to distance himself momentarily from the personal leadership of the Order, which saw the birth of more or less legitimate branches which were concerned, however, with the questions of sovereignty and independence, a process which finished with the return of H.R.H. Prince Robert II with the support of the new Government. After ratifying a new constitution, there began a new international campaign of legal action with the intent of clarifying the situation.