12 NOVEMBER 2003
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL
most of you will be aware that a Strategic Working Party (SWP) which I formed in 2002 has been considering whether the traditional Ceremony of Exaltation and other aspects of the way in which the Royal Arch functions are still appropriate, after some 175 years.
1 May 2003
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal
Companions, I am sure you will all want to join me in congratulating those I have invested this morning on behalf of the ME The First Grand Principal. It goes without saying that your new ranks are in recognition of the efforts you have made for the Royal Arch. They are also given in the expectation that you will actively promote the Order among Master Masons and encourage them to join.
Companions, I know that the ME The First Grand Principal will be pleased, as I am, that Grand Chapter has endorsed the decision to permit him to form a Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London. In doing so they have followed the lead given by the Craft and have ensured that harmony continues in pure Antient Masonry. I appreciate that some Companions may have reservations about this new venture, but I hope they will now put those feelings to one side and unite with the rest of us to ensure its future success. I am not alone in thinking that the Royal Arch in London has been overshadowed by the Craft, to which is has played second fiddle for far too long. I am confident that the formation of a Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London will allow its members to flourish as never before.
A year ago I mentioned the then newly reconvened Strategic Working Party and its deliberations. This is proving a much more complex task than I originally envisaged but the main Committee has made some progress and will very shortly be making recommendations to the Committee of General Purposes for their consideration. As part of our deliberations I set up a sub-committee to look at the rituals, their content, including the historical inaccuracies, and the way they are delivered. Here I regret to say we have made little progress largely because other important matters have taken precedence. However, I am confident we will be able to discuss some of the proposed changes at the regular convocation of Grand Chapter in November.
Yesterday in Grand Lodge the Grand Master encouraged us to make contact with Brethren who had resigned from their Lodges due to direct or indirect pressures, and who may now be in a position to rejoin their old Lodge or join another one. Companions, this also applies to the Royal Arch and I would urge you to do likewise in your Chapters. Discrimination against our members still exists in some quarters even though the situation appears to have improved following our efforts to be more open about ourselves and our willingness to confront our detractors. In fact, I sense a new air of optimism as I travel around our Constitution, with the Craft in general being slimmer and fitter than it was fifteen years ago.
This annual Royal Arch Investiture meeting has to be one of the happiest Masonic events of the year. Not only are we guaranteed to have smiles on the faces of at least half those present, but the rest of us can take genuine pleasure in the happiness of those being invested. The Royal Arch may be smaller in numbers than the Craft but it makes up for it with that special and more intimate pleasure we get from our Chapter meetings.
Today’s ceremony has run very smoothly thanks to the quiet efficiency of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team of Deputies. This is the last time we shall see E Comp Peter Lowndes in action as Grand Director of Ceremonies and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking him for all he has done for both the Craft and the Royal Arch over the past eight years. He will be particularly remembered for the many seminars he has held for Lodge and Chapter DCs, for his efforts in ensuring our high standards of ritual remain the envy of other Grand Lodges around the World and, above all, for his humour in Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter which ensures that those present are in a good mood when the Presiding Officer enters. I would also like to thank the Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff for their considerable efforts in organizing this investiture and the lunch which follows. Two investitures on consecutive days are quite a handful for those of us taking part let alone for those who have to organize them and they do a fine job!
Finally Companions I thank all of you for attending today and making this investiture such a happy meeting. I recently named a racehorse I have bred ‘Greet you well’ which seems an appropriate way of finishing my remarks, but I do not recommend a bet!