His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

by Neill Rhodes

Freemasons around the world were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Friday 9th April. RWBro. Anthony Charles Howlett-Bolton OBE, Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, extended his sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family on behalf of all Freemasons in our Province.

Prince Philip led a remarkable life in which his Membership of Freemasonry can be seen to have had influence throughout.

Born Prince Philip, Prince of Greece and Denmark, in Corfu on 10th June 1921, he was the only son and youngest child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His paternal family is of Danish descent; Prince Andrew was the grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark. His mother was the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg. Prince Philip adopted the family name of Mountbatten when he became a naturalised British subject in 1947. On 22nd February 1957, Her Majesty The Queen, created him a Prince of the United Kingdom. His title became His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Prince Louis, who joined the Royal Navy and rose to become Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord in 1914. He had a long and successful career in the Navy and rose to the rank of Commander. He was also a qualified pilot and was the first member of the Royal Family ever to fly out of Buckingham Palace in a helicopter.

Prince Philip started his life in Freemasonry in 1952, at the age of 31, having been introduced by his father-in-law, King George VI. He was initiated into Navy Lodge No. 2612 on 5th December 1952. King George VI was himself initiated into the same Navy Lodge No. 2612 in December 1919. His grandfather, King Edward VII, had been founding Master. In November 1951, King George VI wrote in a letter to MWBro. The Rt.Hon. The Earl of Scarborough:

King George VI

King George VI

“The world today requires spiritual and moral regeneration. I have no doubt, after many years as a member of our Order, that Freemasonry can play a part in this vital need.” – 5th November 1951

The Victory Stamp

The Victory Stamp

The Victory Stamp captured these words in a graphic representation that also expressed the King’s belief that the building of a new and better world could best be achieved by adhering to the principles of the Square and Compass.

On 6th March 1953, Prince Philip progressed to the Second Degree of Freemasonry, before advancing to the Third Degree on 4th May 1953. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) issued his Grand Lodge Certificate on 7th May that same year. He remained a Member throughout his lifetime and was known to drop into his Lodge meetings almost unannounced.

Prince Philip honoured by Navy Lodge No. 2612 with a Gold Tercentenary Jewel,
presented at Buckingham Palace ©Fergus Burnett Photography

Navy Lodge No. 2612 has a storied past and an amazing roster of luminaries appear upon its Membership roll. The Lodge prides itself on being the premier Naval Lodge in the world, with an unparalleled history that includes four monarchs as past members – King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, King George VI and King George II of the Hellenes.

As well as members of the Royal Family, including HRH Prince George, Duke of Kent, Navy Lodge No. 2612 can proudly name three winners of the Victoria Cross among its past and present Members; numerous Admirals, Generals, Vice-Admirals and Senior Officers; as well as other notables such as Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott (known as ‘Scott of the Antarctic’) and many more.

When Prince Philip stepped down from his public duties in 2017, he gave up many Royal Patronages but retained his Membership of Freemasonry. Whilst not visiting us very often, it is nice to know that the organisation still had a special place in his heart.

Freemasons can count other members of the Royal Family among their number, including HRH the Duke of Kent, who is the longest-serving Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.

There are two Lodges which share the title of Duke of Edinburgh, although both are named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, the second son of Queen Victoria, who was born of 6th August 1844 and became the Duke of Edinburgh in 1866. These Lodges are:

  • The Duke of Edinburgh Lodge No. 1182 in Liverpool, which was issued a warrant on 2nd July 1867 and was consecrated on 1st August 1867.
  • The Duke of Edinburgh Lodge No. 1259 in London, which was consecrated on 4th May 1869.

In addition to his many achievements, Prince Philip was patron, president and honorary member of some 992 organisations, with special interests in charitable endeavours, scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, and conservation and the environment. Among these are counted many charities, clubs and organisations throughout the Province of Berkshire:

  • Patron of The Prince Philip Trust Fund for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, a charity which provides grants to help community, voluntary and educational projects in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead
  • Patron of Windsor and Eton Football Club
  • Patron of Windsor Cricket Club
  • Patron of Windsor Home Park Cricket Club (Windsor Victoria Cricket Club)
  • Patron of Windsor Hockey Club
  • Patron of Windsor Rugby Football Club
  • Patron of Windsor, Slough and Eton Athletic Club
  • Patron of Windsor Forest Bowmen, a target archery club based in Windsor
  • President of Windsor Driving Championships, a competition for carriage driving
  • President and Life Member of Windsor Park Equestrian Club
  • President of the Royal Windsor Horse Show
  • Senior Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Windsor & Eton, noted for their community and charity work in Berkshire
  • Honorary Life Member of the Rotary Club of Windsor St. George, noted for their charitable work in Windsor
  • Honorary Life Member of The Leander Club rowing club based in Henley-on-Thames
  • Honorary Life Member of the University of Reading’s Students’ Union, which represents the students of the University of Reading
  • Honorary Member of Reading Flying Club based in White Waltham, Maidenhead
  • Honorary Member of West London Aero Services Ltd. based in White Waltham, Maidenhead
  • Honorary Member of Berkshire Golf Club
  • Member of Newbury Race Club
  • Ranger of Windsor Great Park, part of the Crown Estate, comprising some 5,000 acres
  • Freeman of The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Following the sad announcement of the passing of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip on Friday 9th April, Freemasons from all over the world honoured the Duke at Edinburgh with a #TimeToToast at 21:00 the same evening. The virtual event was hosted on Twitter and was attended live by approx. 100,000 Members. The toast is available to view on YouTube, with current views standing at just over 40,000:

On 10th April, Dr. David Staples, Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, was interviewed outside of Windsor Castle by the BBC News. He spoke about His Royal Highness, Prince Philip’s time in Freemasonry, and looked back at his remarkable life and legacy through the lessons learned in the Three Degrees. The interview is available to view on YouTube, with current views standing at just over 16,000:

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Funeral will take place on Saturday 17th April 2021 in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. The service will be preceded by a ceremonial procession inside the grounds of Windsor Castle, which will step off at 14:45. The Funeral Service will begin with a National Minute’s Silence at 15:00.

An online Book of Condolence is available on the Royal Family’s website for anyone who would like to send a personal message of sympathy:

https://www.royal.uk/condolence

The Masonic Charitable Foundation will be making a significant donation to one or more of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip’s supported charities on behalf of Freemasons in England and Wales, to mark the decades that he was a Member of the Craft. Should you wish to donate, please browse to the Masonic Charitable Foundation donation page at:

https://t.co/tvHl85X6wc

Bro. His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Lived Respected, Died Regretted

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