immemorial’ we have been very fortunate in that our Craft has had the support of
Royalty. Without that support I doubt that we would be in the same position as
we are today, even taking into account our declining numbers.
and registered a degree of class, charisma & gentlemanly behaviour to the point
where the waiting applicants wanted to be part of the system.
What other way
could a person claiming to be a gentleman, a freeman and good report, hope to
hob knob with the desirables of top male society? Indeed I am sure that in those
early days one was invited or requested to become part of that elite society,
especially during the 18th Century.
What I wish to do
today is to review and clarify the nature of Royalty’s association with
Freemasonry and elaborate on each King in particular as to their contribution.
Indeed it is our claim, to the point of boasting, that “in every age monarchs
themselves have been promoters of the art; have no thought it derogatory from
their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the gavel, have patronised our
mysteries and have joined our assemblies”.
However, as an
aside, I feel that it is necessary to give mention to King Solomon, of the OT,
who is accredited as being one of the founding Grand
references 1 Kings 6:1-38,
1 Kings Chapter 7,
and Chapter 8
describe the construction and dedication of the Temple under Solomon.
And thus too we
can give honourable mention to King Hiram or Huram, the Phoenician King of Tyre,
BC to 947 BC]. Hiram is also
mentioned in the writings of Menander of
Ephesus, as preserved in
Josephus’s ‘Against Apion’,
where we are told that Hiram lived 53 years, of which he ruled 34.
Masonic tradition Hiram is considered
another of the three founding Grand Masters of the fraternity. He appears in
Masonic ritual as the provider of materials, money and craftsmen for the
construction of Solomon's Temple. This comes from the Biblical account of the
alliance between Solomon's Israel and Hiram of Tyre. In Masonic legend, King
Hiram is said to have sent his most skilled master craftsman,
Hiram Abiff, to serve as the
construction's foreman.. Masonic tradition expands on the few, short Biblical
references and creates an allegorical tale not purported to be factual.
famous Kings of yore and their efforts in contributing to and the building of
the First Temple to the Lord, which was completed approx. 950 B.C.E. one would
have to assume that we would have no Modern Freemasonry today.
Maybe we would
have invented another tale?!
The First Temple
and its destruction and the subsequent rebuilding of the Second Temple at the
time of Ezra laid the historical foundation for all future Masonic endeavors,
especially in relation to the Mark, Royal Arch and Cryptic Degrees.
Freemasonry experienced many ups and downs under monarchical institutions in
different countries, benefitting and suffering from the interest of monarchs.
Some monarchs tried to subjugate the Craft and to make it serve their own
ambitions creating an anti-Masonic feeling in some quarters.
the Monarchs involved with Freemasonry from the foundation of the Grand Lodge as
we know it, it would be remiss if a few words were not said about one of
England’s earliest Kings, King Athelstan (924-940). The Roberts MS, 1722, will
tell the story of Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the
Great, who was the first king of all of the English [925 – 939]
In the year 926
A.D., the legendary Grand Assembly at York, was said to have been held by King
Athelstan's half brother Prince Edwin, wherein the great traditions of symbolic
and operative Masonry were constituted, revived, or organised, and a new code of
laws, the Old Charges, for the governing of the Craft instituted.
The Roberts MS.
quotes that Athelstan was a great lover of Masonry and gave Masons their
Charter. In other versions of the Old Charges it is said that Athelstan made his
son Prince Edwin Patron, or head, of the Masons. Research shows that there is
sufficient data to verify that the Old Charges have the support of historical
evidence. Sic: in the Regius Manuscript (or Halliwell manuscript) of 1390, the
Cooke MS of 1450 and the Lansdowne Manuscript, dated 1590.
As we know
Freemasonry owes its springboard into the enlightened world from the green and
pleasant pastures of England, the New Jerusalem. [As eventually composed by
William Blake 1808]
The Deist gentry
of the pre-Jacobite period, 1660 onwards, adopted the Ancients scheme of
operative Masonry and slowly modified it allegorically to give purpose to their
mundane lives. To encourage the spread and acceptance of this new way of
thinking the founders needed a top guy who would attract attention and at the
same time give credo to their beliefs.
What better way
than inviting in The Royal Crown as a Patron?!
And what was even
better when the Royal Patron actually enjoyed the Craft and was determined to
But how did it
The Craft has had
a very healthy historical relationship with the British Royalty, a bond which
has provided patronage, leadership and active participation. But did it start in
England? The answer is, interestingly, no.
We have to give
serious consideration to Scotland prior to discussing the English Royal House.
centuries prior to the time we now accept as the start of Modern Freemasonry we
have recorded Operative Freemasonry in which non Masonic workers were allowed to
join. Indeed there were many local lodges in Scotland before 1600. Scotland
indeed has the oldest lodge minutes in the world in which, in 1483, the Craft is
mentioned in Aberdeen. The entry of non-Masons is best recorded in Scottish
annals in the late 16th Century & is linked to the Stuart dynasty.
Why Scotland? Why the Stuarts?
One has to
remember that the clergy ruled the waves along with Royalty & papal interference
held onto their independence through intermittent bloody wars with English kings
who aimed to annex Scotland. In the 14th century, Scotland got the Pope to
recognize her political independence. In 1320 the country adopted the first
written constitution since the Roman Republic. The Declaration of Arbroath
confirmed Scotland’s status as an independent sovereign state and Robert the
Bruce became the first King in 1371.
Just prior to this period the Pope and France had become
entangled with another entity - the Knights Templar, a military order founded
during the Crusades. In 1307, the Roman Church in France decided to eliminate
the Templars. After a wave of arrests, members were charged with sodomy,
blasphemy, and heresy. When it was all over in 1312, some Templars had confessed
to sodomy under torture and died in prison or at the stake. Others managed to
flee. It is believed that some took refuge in Scotland because of
its independence from papal control.[ Recently, evidence has
emerged that the Pope cleared them of all charges.] There are Templar graves,
visible marked as such offering proof of their existence in Scotland.
However the present school of thought is that Freemasonry, as
we know it today, is derived directly and unquestionably
from the Operative Masons in France, England and Germany
over the approximate period 1550 – 1730. There is no evidence
that the Knights Templar were responsible for the
existence of Freemasonry, despite some evidence that the
association between the Templars and the Operatives
existed, but there is nothing to say they were directly or even
indirectly influenced by them. Most chivalric and many
Biblical legends have found a home into the Craft one
way or another, but none of them is responsible for the
origins of our society.
Safe in their
Scottish exile, it has been theorised that surviving Templars reestablished
themselves by joining the trade guilds--bakers, dyers, weavers, carpenters,
stonemasons--that ran the medieval economy. Each guild was an elite fraternity
that guarded the secrets of its craft, educated its apprentices, protected and
regulated its members, and looked after their families. Most important, the
guilds organised themselves on the basis of written constitutions. The earliest
known document was that of the stonemasons in the late 1300's, which detailed
due process and members' duties. To this day, a new Freemason is called an
"apprentice" and dons a stonemason's sheepskin apron, as he would if he were
learning the building trade.
came to think of themselves as "free men" dedicated to "rebuilding the Temple."
In time, they developed a body of thought on how government could make itself
more independent of the church. As a holdover from the Templars, their writings
and rituals were rich with ancient Eastern associations, notably King Solomon's
Temple in Jerusalem.
its present modern form, we believe, came into being through the trades Lodge
system, established under the auspices of King James VI of Scotland, (later King
James I of England.} He was invited by the English to
rule them as James I of England, since Elizabeth I had died childless and James
was her closest living relative, the only son of Roman
Catholic Mary Queen of Scots by Henry Stuart, Lord
Darnley. At the age of 37, two years after becoming a
Mason, James became the first Stuart king of England and immediately began to
persecute the Puritans, rejecting their petition to reform the Church of England
along biblical lines.
initiated into Freemasonry, into the Lodge of Scoon and Perth in 1601, at the
age of 35. Fifteen years after taking active control of Scotland and five years
before becoming English monarch, he ordered that the Masonic structure be given
leadership and organisation. He made a senior Mason, named William Schaw, his
General Warden of the Craft, and instructed Schaw to revamp the entire Masonic
Lodge structure of Freemasonry into what it became today. Schaw commenced this
project on 28th December 1598, on the orders of James and we have extant today
what is known as the Schaw Statutes which organised the craft on a national
basis, independent of local burgh councils. . James died in 1625.
To this day, the
1611 edition of the King James Bible remains the Freemason Bible and is the
edition conventionally used in the Masonic temple rituals.
James ensured the
spread of Freemasonry in England during his reign but his death did cause a
hiatus until the return of Charles II leaving a gap of almost 35 years in
England before Freemasonry ‘took off’ but it is well documented that there were
free-masons and trades guilds. During this period the Craft stayed alive and
well in Scotland.
In Europe things were different.
James’ son, Charles 1, was beheaded in 1649. His son,
Charles II, left for exile in Holland and France, taking Freemason ideas with
him. English soon tired of Puritan absolutism, and in 1660 Parliament invited
Charles II to come home. Freemasonry established itself solidly in England
during his reign whilst he became loved as one of the best Kings of England
dying in 1685
After the deposing of King James 11,
the 3rd son of Charles I, because of political and religious
maneuvering, Parliament invited the Netherlands' William of Orange, who ruled
with wife Mary, followed by their daughter Anne, before the German House of
Hanover took over in 1714.
John Hamill in his
book The Craft asserts that: “Accepted masonry simply seems to have appeared in
England as a new organisation without any prior connections with the operative
craft.” But there is much evidence to suggest that this is not true. For example
we have mention of the London Company of ‘ffreemasons’ for 1638, wherewith five
names are registered as having been received into this body for which they each
paid ten shillings! Several grave- stones of this era can be found with the word
freemason enscribed.. The first recorded speculative lodge of English masons was
Warrington Lodge in 1646.
But there was no
connection with Royalty, which was otherwise engaged in political shenanigans
with Parliament and an upcoming Civil War.
I would here mention Sir Robert
Moray, who was the first recorded Masonic initiation in England. By the time of
his initiation in 1641 the ideas of the Elizabethan Renaissance thinkers were
well established in Freemasonry. In 1645 the Invisible College was formed,
mostly of Freemasons who wanted to study the "hidden mysteries of nature and
science" without interference from religious authorities.
Sir Robert Moray, in 1660, obtained
a Royal Charter whereby the Invisible College gained protection and
respectability in 1663 as the Royal Society, the first modern scientific think
tank. Its philosophy was based on Bacon's experimentalism, taking the motto
"Nullius in verba", "Nothing by mere authority", or "Take no-one's word for it".
Members such as Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton laid the foundations of modern
physics, while the philosophy of John Locke paved the way toward modern ideas of
human rights and freedom of thought.
Whilst I have
intimated that the Craft attracted brethren as a result of a Royalty connection
I suspect that, in the first instance, it was the essence of the calibre of
those society personages associated with the ‘new’ science and the Royal Society
that attracted Royalty. Royalty had to be seen as enlightened!
Also it is safe to say that Royalty
never felt threatened by Freemasonry as the majority of the Brethren were of the
higher gentry living like the Court. As Freemasonry expanded, including the
freethinkers of the day, there began a cultural dilemma which did lead to
persons crossing the Channel, seeking support, and settling in neutral Holland.
Netherland became a major fan of Freemasonry and such brethren, using their
connections, nearly caused an international conflict saved by Holland’s
neutrality. Holland’s first lodge was registered in 1721.
The Grand Lodge of
England, appearing in 1717, was more Anglican and Bible-based, and insisted at
first that members believe in the Trinity. The 1723 Constitution written by
James Anderson broadened this English requirement to a simple belief in some
form of Supreme Being, the Supreme Architect of the Universe. (This, of course,
outraged the Pope, who prohibited Catholics from joining the order.)
It was during this
period that Freemasonry went international, spreading to England, Ireland, and
the Continent, and eventually to the American colonies. Its members included
enlightened aristocrats, educated middle-class men, and many Fellows of the
Royal Society in London. Members pledged to assist other Masons.
While it had its
purely social side, Freemasonry had, by virtue of continental connections,
become a political movement with a strikingly ecumenical tone at a time when
Europeans were killing each other over religious tenets.
disliked Freemasonry from the beginning, for two reasons: one, because of its
connection to the "heretical" Knights Templar; and secondly, because it became a
political movement that appeared to limit the power of established religions in
Europe. Some Freemasons--in Scotland and England, for example--felt that
monarchy could safely be retailored, with a monarch's powers limited by a
written constitution and a strong Parliament. Masonic thought may have given
rise to revolutionary France by insisting on a need for a constitutional
So who was
regarded as the first English Royal Freemason?
I shall now
proceed to enumerate the first of twenty-three Princes of the Royal Family who
brethren of the
Craft since 1737, eight of whom have held the office of Grand Master.
Indeed Royal Grand
Masters and members of the Peerage have ruled English Freemasonry during 195 of
the 293 years since the inauguration of the Grand Lodge in 1717 and, of note,
five of the last six Kings have been Masons.
To no small degree
do we owe them a sincere acknowledgement.
As we now accept
the foundation of modern Freemasonry from the establishment of the English Grand
Lodge in 1717 it would seem natural to start with the accession of King George 1
of the House of Hanover to the British Throne in 1714.
He was a German
who knew no English. So far as we know he was not a Mason, but not antagonistic
to the Craft. It is during the reign of his son King George 2nd, who occupied
the Throne from 1727 to 1760 that the links between the Royal House and
Freemasonry were established.
It has been said
that becoming a Freemason, as part of the usual British Protestant establishment
ritual, was a Royal ritual but no one coerced any of the Royals to join. They
obviously saw the Craft as a way to better themselves and mankind, whilst at the
same time aligning themselves with the great thinkers and scientists of their
His son Frederick
Lewis, 15th Prince of Wales (1707-1751), heir to the throne, entered
the Craft in 1737 at a lodge in the Palace of Kew and became the first Royal
Freemason. Once royalty entered the Craft, then, as previously stated,
everybody wanted to join, and the fraternity was assured of success.
As an aside, I am
fairly certain that the Masonic term ‘Lewis’ originated here [ in honour of
Frederick Lewis ] and was a symbolic way of informing lodge members that the
new brother would be initiated by a brother of that particular lodge, himself
being a brother of the new apprentice’s immediate family. I do not think it has
any connection whatsoever to the Scottish lifting device called leveor [pulley]
or any Latin corruption thereof.
Rev Dr James
Andersen, a Scottish FM, introduced the term into England in 1738 whilst
preparing the 2nd Edition of Book of Constitutions for original GL of
England- note the date – referring to the eldest son of a FM.! . I am
open to comment on this matter.
His brother Prince
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the third son of King George II, is said
to have been initiated in a Military Lodge in the British Army while serving in
Belgium in 1743.
Not being active
Freemasons, Grand rank was never ever conferred upon them and it was next
generation of the Royal House that actually established the closest links with
the craft. Frederick Lewis led a hedonistic lifestyle and died before his
father, thrusting his son George III onto the thrones of England and Hanover in
1760 at the age of 20.
King George III
(1738-1820) is probably best known to Americans, and the British, as being the
monarch who ‘lost the American colony’ but never became a Mason.
However it was the
other three of Prince Frederick Lewis’ sons who began to play an important role
in Freemasonry. The first son, George III, became King but the other three, the
King’s brothers followed their father Frederick Lewis into Freemasonry,
including Henry, Duke of Cumberland (1745-1790) who in 1782 became Grand Master
of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. [See below]
Duke of York, was the second son of Prince Frederick Lewis. He was initiated in
the Lodge of Friendship in Berlin in 1765, whereupon the Lodge took the name
“Royal York Lodge of Friendship”.
Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of Prince Frederick Lewis, was
initiated, passed and raised, all in one evening, in 1766 at an occasional Lodge
at the Horn Tavern, Westminster, by the Grand Master. It was later named the
Royal Lodge and united with Alpha Lodge No 16.
Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, was the fourth son of Prince Frederick Lewis. He
was initiated in 1767 at an occasional Lodge at the Thatched House Tavern, St
James’ Street, London, being installed as Master of the New Horn Lodge two
months later. To commemorate the membership of the three Royal brothers its
name was changed to “Royal Lodge”.
The first direct
link of the Royal House with the Grand Lodge was forged on April 15, 1767, and
in the light of history it was a most significant event. All three Royal
brothers were elected Past Grand Masters of the premier Grand Lodge, creating an
unbreakable link to this day, and they were presented with a special apron lined
Duke of Cumberland (1745-1790) , proved to be the most active Mason. On April
10, 1782 he was elected Grand Master and held this office until his death in
1790. It is interesting to note that his election in Grand Lodge was contested,
the other candidate being Earl Ferrers. Following his election by a great
majority it was resolved by Grand Lodge that whenever a Prince of the Royal
Blood did Grand Lodge the honour of accepting the office of Grand Master he was
at liberty to recommend a peer of the realm to be Acting Grand Master. This was
the origin of the system of having a Peer as Pro Grand Master when a Prince of
the Royal Blood holds the office of Grand Master. The system was amended in
1977 to permit a commoner to serve as Pro Grand Master. Three weeks after his
election the Duke of Cumberland appointed the Earl of Effingham to be Acting
Grand Master, whereupon the Earl was installed and invested in ample form as
proxy for the Duke of Cumberland. The Duke was exalted in Grand Chapter in 1772
and was Grand Patron of the Royal Arch 1774-1790.
fathered six sons who lived to maturity, and they all became Freemasons.
I shall now
proceed to expound on these sons:
Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales 1762-1830 > King George 1V
Grand Master from 1790
Prince of Wales is
the title given to the first son, who is heir apparent to the throne.
At a special Lodge meeting held at
the Star and Garter London in 1787, George Augustus Frederick was initiated into
Freemasonry by his Uncle Henry, the Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master. He was
seconded by the Duke of Norfolk. That year, he formed his own Lodge, The Prince
of Wales's Lodge (now No. 259) and was its permanent Master from 1787 until
his accession to the throne in 1820.. Initially the members were a mixture of
his friends and household such his dentist and his chief cook. The Lodge
attracted other high-ranking Masons such as the Prime Minister George Canning.
George was elected Grand Master on the death of his uncle in 1790 and in 1805 he
was elected Grand Master and Patron of the Craft in Scotland.. He enjoyed the
social side of Freemasonry, and its imagery found its way into some of the
designs at the splendiferous Royal Pavilion that he built in Brighton.
George Augustus Frederick served as
Prince Regent during his father’s bout with insanity. The distinctive Regency
style of art takes its title from this period, and the Prince Regent was a huge
patron of the arts.
Prior to the
formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813 he resigned as Grand
Master of England, stating that he would not be able under present circumstances
to attend to and discharge the important duties of that office. Instead he
agreed to be Patron and Protector of the Order, and the Craft was gratefully
So now we know
that King George 1V was the first monarch on the British throne to be a Mason
and also the first monarch to have served as Grand Master. He was the second
Prince to have held that office. He established the precedent, which has been
followed ever since, that on accession to the throne, a monarch, if holding the
office of Grand Master, should resign, but continue, if he wished, as an active
member of the Craft.
Thus King George
1V ranks as a major figure in the historical connection between British Royalty
and the Craft.
Frederick Augustus, Duke of York 1763- 1827 “The Grand Old Duke of York”
The Duke of York is the title given
to the second son of the monarch (unless already held by an uncle). He served as
the commander-in-chief of the British Army, and the well-known rhyme was written
Frederick and the Prince of Wales
were firm friends, often drinking and womanizing together, and the Duke of York
became a Mason in the same year as his older brother. He was initiated in
Britannic Lodge (now No. 33) in 1787 , his older brother, the Prince of Wales,
later King George 1V, assisting in the ceremony and was made a Past Grand Master
of the Premier Grand Lodge six days later. . Two years later he was installed
as the First Master of Lodge No. 537, joined Price of Wales Lodge No. 259, and
was it permanent Master from 1820 until his death in 1827. He was exalted in
the Royal Arch in 1825, and on the same day appointed Past Grand First Principal
of Supreme Grand Chapter.
William Henry, Duke of Clarence 1765-1837, who became King William IV
at age 66
the age of thirteen he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman, and was present at
the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780. During the Revolutionary War he served in
When his brother
King George IV died childless in 1830 he ascended the throne as William IV.
Unlike his extravagant brother, William was unassuming, and discouraged pomp and
ceremony. He was initiated in the Craft in 1786 in Prince George Lodge No. 86 at
The following year
he was appointed Past Grand Master. He became a member of the Prince of Wales
Loge No. 259 two years later, and was its permanent Master from 1827 until his
accession to the throne in 1830. In 1790he was appointed Grand Superintendent
of Gibraltar and Patron of Royal Arch Masonry. He was never Grand Master, but
followed Royal precedent in retiring as Master of his Lodge on his accession to
4] Edward Augustus, Duke
of Kent 1767-1820 -- Father of
He went with his troops to Quebec,
Canada 1791 and in 1799 became General & Commander-in-Chief of the forces in
British North America, living for most of that time in Halifax NS. In 1802 he
was appointed governor of Gibraltar & Andalusia.
He was initiated
in 1789 in Loge Union des Coeurs at Geneva while training on the continent for
his future military career. In Canada he accepted the office of Provincial Grand
Master of Lower Canada under the Antients Grand Lodge [ surprisingly], and it is
believed that he held that office until his death.
He returned to
England in the year 1800. In 1813 he was elected their Grand Master by the
Antients. This statesmanlike act paved the way for the union of the two Grand
Lodges and the realisation of the Duke’s great hope of establishing unity with
the whole Fraternity of Masons. With his younger brother, the Duke of Sussex, he
actively involved himself in the negotiations which led to the union of the
premier and Ancient Grand Lodges in 1813, and it was on his unselfish proposal
that his brother was elected Grand Master of the resulting United Grand Lodge of
England. At the meeting of the Ancient Grand Lodge his act was described as a
manifestation of his “noble generosity”. He was also Grand Principal 1792-1797,
Grand Master of the Knights Templar 1804-1807, and their Grand Patron 1807-1812.
He predeceased his
father, George III, by six days, and predeceased his three elder brothers. His
daughter Alexandria Victoria, fortunately born in England, as none of the
brothers had any surviving legitimate children, succeeded to the British throne
on the death of King William IV in 1837. This in itself was a ‘rags to riches’
Queen Victoria was
always openly well disposed toward Freemasonry and approved of the Craft. It is
noteworthy that a figure of Hiram Abiff adorns Albert Hall in London and that
the oldest surviving Masonic Lodge in the Bahamas proudly bears her name, “
Royal Victoria”. The name of the Lodge was chosen in her honour as its
inauguration exactly coincided with her accession in 1837.
5. Ernest Augustus, Duke of
Cumberland 1771- 1851
He lost his left eye during the
Battle of Turcoing in 1794. The Duke of Cumberland had a reputation as one of
the least pleasant of the sons of George III, opposing the 1828 Catholic
Emancipation Bill, which would have given more rights to Catholics.
He was initiated in 1796 by the
Acting Grand Master assisted by the Earl of Moria at a special meeting at the
latter’s house. He was elected a Past Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge on
the same day. In 1813 he joined the Lodge “Frederick of the White Horse” in
He could not succeed to the throne of Britain, but later became His Majesty
Ernst August I, King of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg.
A historical note:
- Until 1837 the thrones of Great Britain and Hanover had, for over a century,
been held by the same king. However, no female could rule the throne of Hanover.
As Queen Victoria
was therefore unable to succeed to the Electorship of Hanover the union of Great
Britain and Hanover under the same sovereign ended. Prince Ernest Augustus then
became King of Hanover. In 1828 he had been elected Grand Master of the Grand
Lodge of Hanover, when it became independent from the Grand Lodge of England. It
had previously been the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hanover under the English
Constitution. Even after he became King of Hanover he continued as Grand Master
of the Grand Lodge of Hanover until his death in 1851.
6. Augustus Frederick, Duke
of Sussex 1773-1843 – a major figure in Freemasonry
The only one of the brothers who did
not pursue an army or naval career, perhaps because he was asthmatic. The Duke
of Sussex was to become the favorite uncle of Queen Victoria, and he gave her
away at her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
He was initiated
in Berlin in 1798 in Victorious Truth Lodge, and became its Master. He joined
the Prince of Wales Lodge No. 259 in 1800, and was its permanent Master from
1830 until his death in 1843. He was responsible in 1814 for what is now the
present Royal Alpha Lodge No. 16, his personal Lodge, and was its Master
1820-1843. He was elected a Past Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge in
1805, Deputy Grand Master in 1812, and Grand Master in 1813. In this office he
worked actively with his Royal Brothers the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the
Antients’ Grand Lodge, for the union of the two Grand Lodges. [See above]
So important was
the role played by these Royal Brothers in achieving this union of conciliation
– it laid the future for all time of British Freemasonry.
On the formation
of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813 the Duke of Sussex was nominated by
his brother, the Duke of Kent, for the office of Grand Master and was duly
elected and installed in 1814. He remained Grand Master until his death in 1843.
The Duke of Sussex
was “introduced” into the Royal Arch in 1810, and became First Grand Principal
of the Grand and Royal Chapter (Moderns) in the same year. On the formation of
the Supreme Grand Chapter in 1817 he became its first Grand Principal and held
office until his death 26 years later. He was Grand Master of the Knights
Templar 1812-1843, and controlled all the other Orders extant during that
period. He ranks with his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, his brother King George
IV, and successors yet to be mentioned, among the Princes who filled the office
of the Grand Master.
On that generation
mention should be made of William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester, the son-in-law
of King George III. He was initiated in Britannic Lodge No. 33 in 1795, and was
elected the next year a Past Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge. He was
exalted at a special Chapter held for that purpose by a Committee of the Grand
and Royal Arch Chapter in 1797.
The next link
after the generation of Queen Victoria is that of the generation of her eldest
son, Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, who succeeded her as Edward VII.
was initiated not in England, but in Sweden. The initiation took place at
Stockholm in December, 1868 in the St. John’s Lodge “Den Nordiska Forsta”, and
the ceremony was conducted by the King of Sweden. Before leaving Sweden the
Prince received all ten Degrees according to the Swedish Rite. A few weeks later
permission was sought for an official statement to be made in the Grand Lodge of
England, and the following information was supplied by the Prince:
Upon his return to
England the Prince was examined by the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master, and proved
himself a Master Mason. The following year the Grand Lodge of England resolved
to confer upon the Prince the rank of Past Grand Master. An amendment to alter
this rank and title to Grand Patron was defeated. On December 1, 1869, he was
invested with the regalia of a Past Grand Master in a notable ceremony.
The next year the
office of Patron of the Masonic Order in Scotland was conferred upon him by the
Grand Master of Scotland and a year later the rank of Patron of the Order in
Ireland by the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The Prince proved himself a most active
Freemason, manifesting a very real interest in the Craft. He joined the Royal
Alpha Lodge No. 16 in 1870, and was its Master for a number of years, next the
Apollo University Lodge No. 357 and was its Master in 1873, next the Prince of
Wales Lodge No. 295 in 1872, and was its permanent Master 1874 to 1901, next
Grand Masters’ Lodge No. 1 in 1880. He was founder and First Master of The
Household Royal Brigade Lodge No. 2614 and Navy Lodge No. 2612 in 1896 and was
permanent Master of both until his accession in1901, in 1907 he was a founder
and first Master of Sancta Maria Lodge No. 2682.
On the resignation
of the Grand Master, the Earl of Ripon, in 1874, the Prince of Wales was invited
to succeed him and on his acceptance he appointed the Earl of Carnarvon as Pro
of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master took place on 25th April, 1875
at the Royal Albert Hall attended by nearly 8,000 Brethren. This ceremony was
acclaimed as the most noteworthy which had ever taken place in the history of
The Prince of
Wales continued as Grand Master for 26 years (1875-1901), when on ascending to
the throne he resigned the office and became the Protector of the Order. He was
also First Grand Principal of Royal Arch 1874-1901, Grand Master of Mark Masons
1886-1901, and Grand Master of Knights Templar
In 1874 the 33°
was conferred upon him and he accepted appointment as Grand Patron of the
Ancient and Accepted Rite.
It is difficult to
do justice to, let alone exaggerate, the service rendered by this royal prince
to Freemasonry or the strength of the bond which united him to the Craft.
His death in 1910
evoked the following tribute:
“The death of His
Majesty King Edward VII, which smote all human hearts with such sudden sadness,
brings more poignant grief to the hearts of all Freemasons. For over forty years
Masonry found him a warm advocate, a wise and benevolent Ruler, and a willing
Patron. Whilst a nation mourns for a King who now becomes a sweet and happy
memory, a King who was such by right of birth as well as of righteous rule,
Masonry mourns the loss of a King who became such by the conquest of human
hearts; a King who, figuratively, set aside the Sword of State and entered the
Masonic Lodge, by the only door open to those who seek that they may find; a
King who, enamoured of the principles of the Craft, wove them into a life of
useful words and work. In taking up Freemasonry he espoused the principle of
“Brotherly Love”, and in his efforts as Ruler of the British Empire he earned
the illustrious name of “The Peacemaker”. These were the Two Great Pillars which
stood sentinel at the entrance of the Temple of King Edward’s inner life, and
became symbolic of the spirit which reigned within, in Wisdom, Love, and Power.”
third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, as his brother the Prince of Wales,
also played a significant and active role history of the Craft.
The Prince of
Wales initiated him into the Prince of Wales Lodge in 1874 and from 1903 until
his death was its permanent Master.
He was a member
of many Lodges in various countries and permanent Master of a number. He entered
Grand Lodge in 1877 as Senior Grand Warden and served as Provincial Grand Master
of Sussex 1887-1901 and District Grand Master of Bombay 1887-1901. In 1891 the
rank of Past Grand Master was eventually conferred upon him by Grand Lodge after
a wait of 17 years.
The Duke of
Connaught was elected Grand Master in 1901 when his brother became King Edward
VII. He held that office for a record thirty-eight years, retiring because of
ill health in 1939. He died in 1942 at the age of 92.
Duke also served as First Grand Principal, Royal Arch, Grand Master, Mark and
Grand Master, Knights Templar, all from the years 1901 to 1939. In 1879 he
received the 33° of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and from 1911 until
his death in 1942, was its Grand Patron.
fourth son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, also joined the Craft. He was
initiated in Apollo University Lodge in 1874 and becoming its Master in 1876.
Spanning a ten
year period up to his premature death, age 31, he served as Provincial Grand
Master for Oxfordshire 1875-1884, receiving the rank of Junior Warden in 1877.
He was exalted in 1876 in Apollo University Chapter, Royal Arch, and was its
First Principal in 1881. He was Grand Superintendent of Oxfordshire 1881-1884,
and Third Grand Principal of Supreme Grand Chapter 1883-1884. He was appointed
Past Grand Master, Mark, in 1881. He served as Knight Grand Cross and Great
Constable, Knights Templar 1880-1883. In 1878 hr received the 33° of the Ancient
and Accepted Rite.
Another member of
the Royal family who died prematurely aged twenty-eight was Albert Victor, Duke
of Clarence, the eldest son of King Edward VII. Initiated by his father, the
then Grand Master, into the Royal
Alpha Lodge in
1885, he was passed in Friendship Lodge and raised in Isaac Newton Lodge. Two
years later he was appointed Senior Grand Warden and in 1888 became Master of
Friendship Lodge. He was also Master of Royal Alpha Lodge 1887-1891. He was
Provincial Grand Master of Walden, Mark, in1887, and received the 18° of the
Ancient and Accepted Rite. He died in 1892.
second son of King Edward VII who succeeded to the throne in 1910 as King
George V, was never a member of the Craft.
The Duke of
Connaught was succeeded by his son Prince Arthur of Connaught. He was initiated
in 1911 to the Royal Alpha Lodge in the presence of his father, then Grand
Master. He became its Master in1919. He was also a member of Wellesley Lodge and
was a Founding Member of Old Etonian Lodge No. 4500. In 1914 he was appointed
Past Senior Grand Warden. He had the distinction of being the only Royal Mason
ever to be appointed a Past Grand Warden. He was Provincial Grand Master for
Berkshire from 1924 until his in 1938, predeceasing his father, who was then
still Grand Master.
Edward, Prince of
Wales, later King Edward VII, and still later the Duke of Windsor, was the
eldest son of King George V. Initiated in 1919 into the Household Brigade Lodge
No. 2614, he became its Master in 1921. He was also a member of several other
Lodges, including Royal Alpha, and was Master of two of them. He was appointed
Senior Grand Warden in 1922, and served as Provincial Grand Master of Surrey
from 1924 to 1936. He was exalted in United Chapter and was accorded the rank of
First Principal in 1927. He served as Grand Superintendent for Surrey 1930-1936.
In 1932 he received the 33º from the Ancient and Accepted Rite. He served as
Deputy Grand Master and Governor of the Royal Order of Scotland. In June, 1936,
five months after his accession to the Throne, as was now the tradition, he
accepted the rank as Past Grand Master.
Duke of York, the second son of King George V, succeeded to the Throne in1936 as
King George VI, the third monarch of the House of Windsor, on the abdication of
his brother King Edward VII.
His is one of the
leading royal names in the annals of the Craft, having the record of greatest
Being a sailor he
chose to be initiated in Navy Lodge No. 2612 in 1919 becoming its Master in
1921. In 1923 he was invested as Senior Grand Warden, and served as Provincial
Grand Master of Middlesex 1924-1937. He was a member of numerous other Lodges,
including Prince of Wales Lodge, Royal Alpha Lodge, and Household Brigade Lodge,
and served as Master of two of them. In 1936 he was affiliated to
being received into his father-in-law’s Lodge, Glamis No.99 (S.C) with Bro.
Beattie, the village postman, in the Chair, & subsequently installed as Grand
Master of Scotland for 1936-7. On his accession to the English throne a year
later, he naturally resigned that Scottish office, becoming a short while after
a Past Grand Master for the United Grand Lodge of England. This was a well
recorded ceremony, it being a first whereby a King had conducted business in
Grand Lodge, personally investing over one hundred Brethren to Grand Rank.
As Duke of York he
was exalted in United Chapter in 1921 and served as its First Principal in 1928.
In 1937 the year of his accession to the Throne, he also accepted membership in
the Knights Templar. He was made Past Grand Master and Knights Grand Cross of
the Temple in 1937. He was a Mark Mason, and also accepted the 33º of the
Ancient and Accepted Rite.
history was made when King George VI, although not Grand Master after his
accession, participated in important meetings of the Grand Lodge and personally
installed several other members of the Royal Family. In 1939, on the resignation
of the Duke of Connaught he installed his own younger brother, Prince George,
Duke of Kent, as Grand Master. The installation took place at a specially
convened Grand Lodge at Olympia, London, on July 19, 1939, before an attendance
of 12000 Brethren.
The Duke of Kent
served as Grand Master for only three years until his lamented death while on
Active Service in the Royal Air Force during WWII, an incident which gave rise
to a rumour of an assassination conspiracy.[ see below] The King then installed
his bother-in-law, the Earl of Harewood, as Grand Master. Five years later he
installed the Duke of Devonshire in that office.
Prince Henry, Duke
of Gloucester, third son of King George V, was not a Mason.
Duke of Kent, was the fourth son of King George V. He was initiated in 1928 in
Navy Lodge, and was its Master in 1931. His sponsors were his brothers who were
destined to sit on the Throne as Edward VII and George VI. The latter presided
at the meeting. He was also a member of the Prince of Wales Lodge and Royal
Alpha Lodge, and served as Provincial Grand Master of Wiltshire, 1934-1939. he
was installed by his brother George VI as Grand Master in 1939, as already
described, and served in that office for three years until his death on Active
Service with the Royal Air Force. He was the father of the present (1978) Grand
Master. He was exalted in Westminster and Keystone Chapter No.10 and served as
First Grand Principal from 1939 until his death. He also served as Grand Master
(Mark) for the same three-year period.
King George VI was
succeeded on the Throne in1952 by the present Sovereign, Her Gracious Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II.
In the same year
her husband, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, like his father-in-law, was
initiated in Navy Lodge No. 2612 in the presence of the Grand Master the Earl of
Scarborough. Membership in Navy Lodge is limited to those serving or who have
served in the Royal Navy. It meets regularly in Freemason’s Hall
Prince of Wales, never joined the Craft.
Finally we come to
the elder son of Prince George, the present Duke of Kent, is Prince Edward who
was born in1935. He was initiated in 1963 in Royal Alpha Lodge No.16, and became
its Master 1965-1966. He was appointed Senior Grand Warden in 1966 and was
installed as Grand Master in1967, on the 250th Anniversary of the
foundation of the first Grand Lodge in the presence of over 6,600 Masons from
all over the world.
He continues to
give distinguished service in that office today. He was exalted in Westminster
and Keystone Chapter No. 10, and was elected its First Principal in 1966. He has
been First Grand Principal since 1967.
The Duke obviously
undertakes his duties very seriously having attended every investiture in Grand
Lodge since he took office.
Prince Michael of
Kent is the younger son of the late Prince George, Duke of Kent. Like his older
brother the present Grand Master he was initiated in Royal Alpha Lodge in 1974,
and was installed as its Worshipful Master on December 14, 1977. He joined the
Prince of Wales Lodge in1975.He is the present Grand Master of The Mark Degree.
To the best of my
knowledge none of the Queen’s grandchildren have become Masons.
We shall now to
wait and see who will succeed the Duke of Kent.
And we shall have
to hope that a Royal connection be maintained.
GAVEL (Part 2)
AND THE ROYAL FAMILY
delivered in The Bahamas Installed Masters Lodge No. 8764 on June 24, 1978
by the W. M.,
R. W. Bro. Donald M. Fleming, P.G.J.W.