Supreme Grand Chapter
Address of the First Grand Principal, HRH The Duke of Kent
29 April 2004
Companions, I am very pleased indeed
to see so many of you present in Grand
Chapter today and I bid you all a warm
I congratulate all the Companions I have
had the pleasure of investing today and
thank them for their past efforts. I would
remind them that their new ranks bring new
responsibilities and an opportunity to put
even more into Royal Arch Masonry.
Companions, as you are aware, I usually
preside at the Annual Investiture meeting of
the Craft, which gives me an opportunity to
address the whole of the Craft.
On this occasion however, I have chosen
to preside at the Annual Investiture of
Supreme Grand Chapter, and I want to take
this opportunity to make some comments
about the revisions to the Royal Arch ritual
as proposed by the Pro First Grand
Principal’s Strategic Working Party.
The amendment to the 1813 Declaration,
which Grand Lodge voted to adopt last
December, recognises formally that the
Royal Arch is a separate Order.
However, there still seems to be some
doubt in the minds of some Companions
about the continuing link between the Craft
and the Royal Arch, and some feeling that
the enhancement in the status of this Order
has broken the link.
Such, Companions, is not the case. I said
in the March Quarterly Communication of
Grand Lodge that I wanted very strongly to
endorse the phrase used by the Pro Grand
Master in his speech last September, when
he emphasised that the Royal Arch is to
remain “indissolubly linked to the Craft”.
There is no compromise here,
Companions: that bond is to remain as
strong and as close as ever, and the Royal
Arch should be regarded by all as the
important final step in pure Antient
For many years, the Royal Arch has been
described as “the completion of the Third
Degree”. This phrase implies that neither the
Third Degree nor the ceremony of Exaltation
is complete, which is surely untrue.
Some have suggested that recognising
this as fact has taken away a strong argument
for persuading Brethren to join the Royal
Arch, but I believe that we must adopt a
different approach, and stress that a man
only becomes a complete Mason when he
takes this very important additional step into
The requirement of having to be an
Installed Master before progressing through
the Principals’ offices in the Royal Arch is
regarded by many Companions as frustrating
and restrictive. It appears to have dissuaded
many from maintaining their membership
of the Royal Arch, and caused them to join
other Orders beyond the Craft as the next
step in their Masonic career in preference to
the Royal Arch.
It is proposed to remove this barrier to
permit those who have served as Principal
Sojourner, but not been through the chair
in their Lodge, to make progress in their
Chapters – provided they have earned it
by their keenness and ability.
The proposed changes to the Lectures are
designed to enhance their clarity and impact.
As a consequence, delivering these lectures
to newly exalted Companions will become
easier, and will enable more Companions to
take part in the ritual at an earlier stage of
their Royal Arch career than has been the
Most of the changes proposed by the
Strategic Working Party, especially those
relating to the Lectures, will be permissive.
This will enable Chapters to introduce these
changes gradually over a period of time, if
they so wish.
There are no plans to make the revised
workings mandatory, and Chapters will
continue to be able to work the traditional
version of the Lectures if they prefer.
Companions, I know that there has
already been a very considerable response in
this current phase of consultation, which
will continue for several more months, and
it is encouraging that so many have wanted
to make their views known.
Inevitably, opinions differ on how much
change should be introduced, but this sort
of review is healthy and can only lead to a
better result. A number of suggestions made
by members of the Order have already been
approved by the Strategic Working Party,
and no doubt there will be more before
this matter comes before Grand Chapter
I am hopeful that a final decision can be
reached then, but it is a large undertaking,
and we need to be as sure as possible that
the changes that are recommended are the
If these recommendations are approved
by Supreme Grand Chapter and made to
work by your enthusiasm and support,
they will have a positive impact on the
future of the Royal Arch and help to
make this beautiful and important Order
Before closing, I wish to thank the
Grand Scribe E and his staff for everything
they do to enable us to enjoy our Royal
Arch Masonry and to the Grand Director
of Ceremonies and his Deputies for ensuring
that our ceremonies run so smoothly.