This position had been shared jointly by the Princes Orsini and Colonna, but the former was deprived by Pius XII after obtaining a divorce and the title was conferred upon Prince Torlonia, Prince of Fucino, Canino and Musignano of the Torlonia Family.
The Prince Assistants are representatives of the Roman nobility, who serve at the feet of the Throne immediately next to the Cardinal Deacon who stands to the right of the Pope. They alternate office during their lifetimes and no-one can substitute for them.
Their principal function is to serve on the occasion of official visits by a Head of state.
The reforms of 1969 also changed the names and abolished the differing categories of Secret Chamberlains of the Cape and Sword to Gentlemen of His Holiness. Other offices were abolished altogether, but office holders were reassigned.