The most powerful Freemason in England and Wales is the Queen’s first cousin Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent – and he’s the longest-serving head after being appointed 55 years ago
The Queen ‘s cousin heads one of the most mysterious organisations in the UK, the Freemasons.
Freemasons describe themselves as a “secular social and charitable organisation” which helps members “make new friendships, develop themselves and make valuable contributions to charitable causes.”
However, the organisation is often the subject of conspiracy theories developed by people who believe Freemasons secretly run the country or change the world for their own benefit.
It is believed that the group conceals at least some of its rituals, customs, or activities from the public, but the most powerful Freemason in England and Wales is less of a secret.
The head of the lodge, who members refer to as the ‘Grand Master’, is none other than the Queen’s first cousin Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent.
Having been appointed in June 1967, Edward has been serving the lodge for almost 55 years, making him the longest-serving head.
Edward, 86, is the son of the Queen’s paternal uncle, Prince George. In other words, Edward’s father was the brother of Queen Elizabeth’s father King George VI.
He became the Duke of Kent when he was just six years old after his father was killed in a plane crash in 1942.
He has been carrying out royal duties since the age of 16 – first by walking behind the coffin of his uncle King George in 1952, and then by paying homage to the Queen on her coronation in 1953.
He has also been involved with over 140 charities, including the Freemasons, where much of his charity work revolves around war remembrance, technology, and the growth of British industry.
Although Edward is the head of the United Grand Lodge of England, he is not the head of all Freemasons worldwide.
There are around 5 million Freemasons around the world – 200,000 of them living in England and Wales.
The Duke’s brother, Prince Michael of Kent, is also a Freemason and is Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, and Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was also a Freemason having been introduced to Freemasonry in 1952 at the age of 31 by his Father-in-Law King George VI. Throughout his 99 years, he was associated with some 992 charities, either as president, patron or as an honorary member.
The Prince supported charitable organisations in the fields of scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, conservation and the environment.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), said: “Prince Philip was well known for his charity work, having been involved with numerous organisations. He was devoted to philanthropy and therefore the best way to celebrate his life is by supporting the charities that the Prince himself supported.
“For us, this was an easy decision as Freemasonry’s core values are charity, integrity, respect and friendship. The Freemasons have been quietly getting on with making society and the lives of those less fortunate better for more than three centuries,” said Dr Staples.
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