When the United Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1813, it was ‘declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.
Together with U.G.L.E., Supreme Grand Chapter is administered from Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London. The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, is also the First Grand Principal of the Royal Arch. Several other Craft Grand Officers also hold equivalent offices in the Royal Arch.
Every Royal Arch Chapter has to be attached to a Craft Lodge and take the same Number as that Lodge. Most Chapters also take the same name as their parent Lodge. Initially, Candidates for the Royal Arch had to have already been a Master of a Craft Lodge, but this was later altered to having had to have been a Master Mason for at least 12 months. It was again altered to a period of four weeks, which applies to this day. About one Master Mason in three becomes a Companion of the Royal Arch.
Meetings of Royal Arch Chapters are called Convocations. A Chapter is ruled collectively by three Principals, elected for the year. Most other Officers have different titles and functions from Craft Lodges. The regalia is totally different from Craft, consisting of an Apron with a red and blue surround, a red and blue sash and a special Breast Jewel. Companions also wear their Breast Jewel in their Craft Lodges to show the close bond which exists between Craft and Royal Arch.
The Royal Arch ceremony deals with the period after King Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed and was about to be re-built. The ritual is allegorical and, without trespassing on religion, leads the candidate, whatever his religion, to contemplate the nature of, and his relationship with God.