ISSUE 14, July 2005

The King and the Craft
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principle and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge dues: Message from the President of the Board of General Purposes
    Masonic Housing: Major changes Finance: Choosing an investment manager Travel: Tantalising Tunisia Goose and Gridiron: Historic Masonic unveiling Extravaganza: Hollywood comes to Grand Lodge Masonic Events: Day of Fun and Medical, University and Legal Lodges' Festival Education: Sheffield Masonic Library and Forthcoming events and The Entered Apprentice Specialist Lodges: Revving up to success and where eagles dare International: The horror of Phuket and Grand Charity team visit disaster area Library and Museum: Fraternal societies Masonic Charities: NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB and Grand Charity
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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In contrast to the Olympia meeting, wartime conditions limited the delegations form other Grand Lodges to Ireland and Scotland. As the press reported, the entrance into the Grand Temple of the King was greeted by tremendous applause. In the course of his address to the new Grand Master, his brother-in-law, the King said:

“… we have seen how the Brethren have looked to Masonry to provide the moral support and fraternal association which is at all times, and particularly in times of stress, so necessary. I have been most interested to hear how difficulties have been overcome by Brethren in certain areas in their determination to continue their Masonic privileges. … You will appreciate, Most Worshipful Grand Master, that you enter upon the duties of your office at the beginning of perhaps the most critical period in the history of the Craft. English Freemasonry has behind it the experience of nearly two and a half centuries of steadfast adherence to fundamental principles, and I believe that a determination to maintain the values which have been the rock upon which the Masonic structure has stood firm against the storms of the past is the only policy which can be pursued in the future …I thank the Brethren for the warmth of their reception, which has deeply touched me. I cherish my association with the Craft and pray that the GAOTU may continue to pour His Blessings upon it, upon its Grand Master and upon every one of its members.”

Lord Harewood died unexpectedly in May 1947, the King commented:

“The death of Lord Harewood came as a shock to us all. He had carried out the exacting duties of his office, I fear, with entire disregard for his own health”.

The Duke of Devonshire was elected to succeed him and the Royal Albert Hall was again called into service on 23 March 1948 when the King attended to install the new Grand Master. In contrast to the previous occasion, over 7,000 brethren were present with delegations from the United States, Canada and the newly revived Grand Lodges in Europe. In his address to the new Grand Master, the King again stated his belief in the fundamental principles of Freemasonry:

“During the past ten years we have passed through the most devastating war that the world has known, and now all nations are exerting themselves to restore order and prosperity within their frontiers. It is only by the revival of those spiritual and moral values which are always the first victims in war that this rehabilitation can be achieved. With this in view, many men enter Freemasonry today in the belief, which is so fully justified, that it is based on fundamental principles which guide and support them in their endeavours. When I addressed your predecessor at his installation, I said, ‘I believe that a determination to maintain the values which have been the rock upon which the Masonic structure has stood firm against the storms of the past is the only policy which can be pursued in the future’. I think that warning needs emphasising today, when men, sometimes swayed by sentimentality or an indiscriminate tolerance, are apt to overlook the lessons of the past. I cannot better impress this upon you than by quoting from the Book on which we have all taken our Masonic obligations: ‘Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set’.”

The King’s death on 6 February 1952 was universally mourned. At the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on 5 March the Deputy Grand Master, the Earl of Derby, summed up the feelings of both the Craft and the people in general when he said:

“I think that for all of us this is a sad occasion, as it is the first time that Grand Lodge has met since the death of His Majesty, our Most Worshipful Brother King George VI. I feel, too, that we all have a deep sense of personal grief at his passing. I do not believe that there was any man who desired Kingship less, or came to the throne under more difficult circumstances, yet we all know that during the years of his reign he was everything we hoped and expected a King to be. I feel that to all of us he set three great examples in a way that we should realise: firstly, in his devotion to duty and in the way that he always set his subjects and his duty before himself; secondly, in his own courage, which he showed during the war years by always sharing the dangers of his subjects, and later by his personal courage during those long months of illness; and lastly, he set us the example of what family life should be”.

From the meeting, messages of condolence were sent to the new Queen, the Queen Mother and to Queen Mary. In a personal response, after thanking the Craft for its condolences and sympathy, HM The Queen Mother wrote:

“His Majesty’s interest in the activities of your Order, to which you have referred, was unfailing and sincere, and I ask you to accept my assurance that this recollection adds very greatly to the value of the message you bring.”

To demonstrate that assurance, on 28 October Her Majesty paid an informal visit to Freemasons’ Hall, spending the greater part of the morning touring the building and viewing the Museum. On her return to her home she selected from the King’s personal collection an 18th century Chinese porcelain bowl with Masonic decoration to be presented to the Museum as a permanent memorial of the King and his connection with the Craft.

John Hamill is Director of Communications of the United Grand Lodge of England

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