Brethren, I start by saying a very warm
welcome to everyone attending our Grand
Lodge meeting today and I congratulate
all those whom I have had the pleasure of
investing with Grand Rank or promoting
to higher office.
As Grand Officers, I would remind you
that you have an important leadership role
to play in the Craft. As well as continuing to
set high standards for the Craft to follow,
I hope you will also be active in promoting
greater openness about our Freemasonry,
which I consider essential.
Together with helping us to understand
our own place in Freemasonry, this more
open approach should also ensure we are
better prepared to explain our Masonry
to our family, friends and acquaintances.
There is no doubt in my mind Brethren,
that with today’s rapidly changing society,
Freemasonry is more relevant than at any
Many of you will be aware that the four
main Masonic charities, the Grand Charity,
the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys,
the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
and the Masonic Samaritan Fund will
shortly all be under one roof here at
This move will, I believe, bring enormous
benefits. I have in mind, for example,
increased liaison between the charities
themselves and between them and the
United Grand Lodge of England, as well
as shared resources.
The Rulers’ Forum had its first meeting
in December, and from all the comments
I have had, it has got off to a good start.
I will be happy if it achieves three things.
First, there are many excellent initiatives
coming out of London and the Provinces
which, because of geographical reasons and
lack of communication, are only taken up
by a few and not disseminated to a wider
audience. The teddy bear children’s hospital
scheme is an example of how slowly a good
idea percolates through our organisation.
The Rulers’ Forum should act as a central
exchange for new ideas.
Secondly, much effort is wasted
duplicating things which could be used
uniformly by us all. Many Provinces,
for instance, have their own booklets for
Initiates, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons.
Then there are booklets on the work
of the Almoners, Charity Stewards and
other Lodge Officers as well as on mentor
schemes and our charities.
I believe a lot of effort and cost could
be saved if we took the best points from all
of them and created something uniform
which we could all use. One group in the
Rulers’ Forum is doing just that for mentor
schemes, and it will be interesting to see
how that develops.
Thirdly, it must act as a forum for grass
roots Masons to debate issues, which
concern us all, with the Rulers and other
senior members of the Craft, and act as
a conduit for disseminating the results
through their groups to the Lodges.
In the course of the memorable and most
enjoyable meeting of the 150th anniversary
of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons,
where I was present as a guest of their Grand
Master, my brother Prince Michael, I had
the opportunity to see also many other long
established, well-known and respected
Orders of Masonry to which many Craft
members belong. I believe this may be a
good moment for me to say something
The Preliminary Declaration of the
Act of Union of the two Grand Lodges in
December 1813, says that it was ‘declared
and announced that pure Antient Masonry
consists of three degrees and no more’, that
is to say ‘Entered Apprentice, the Fellow
Craft and the Master Mason, including the
Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’.
This has been the position for nearly 200
years and will remain unchanged.
However, since many members of the
Craft are members of these Orders, I am
pleased to acknowledge formally their
existence and regularity, and in particular
their sovereignty and independence.
The best known of these orders are:
Mark, Ancient and Accepted Rite, Knights
Templar, Royal and Select Masters, Royal
Ark Mariner, Red Cross of Constantine,
Allied Masonic Degrees, Order of the
Secret Monitor and Knight Templar Priests.
I also accept the valuable role they play in
providing additional scope for Brethren to
extend their Masonic research in interesting
and enjoyable ways.
The Orders I have just mentioned are
simply the best known and largest of those
practised in London, the Provinces and
Districts overseas. I am aware that there are
in addition others that have a valid place in
Freemasonry and with whom we enjoy a
good relationship. What is important is that
Brethren who join these other Orders still
retain their membership of a Craft Lodge,
and I am pleased that the Orders will be
encouraging their members to do so.
In early March, Brethren, I was in Ghana
to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that
country’s independence. During my visit
I also attended the 75th anniversary of the
District Grand Lodge of Ghana. At the
meeting, attended by nearly 500 Brethren,
I appointed Brother His Majesty Osei Tutu,
King of the Ashanti, to Past Senior Grand
Deacon and I am pleased to have invested
him here today.
Finally, Brethren, I know you would all
want me to express our thanks to the Grand
Director of Ceremonies and his team for the
meticulous way in which they have run this
meeting, as well as to the Grand Secretary
and his staff for their careful and thorough
organisation behind the scenes.
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