The Daily Mail reports that the intention to call it The Royal Household Lodge, and to adapt the royal cipher EIIR for use on the lodge's regalia has caused some heartburn around the palace. They intend to draw Masons from Royal residences including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Clarence House and St James's Palace.
The Queen's cousin, the Duke of Kent, is the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, but Freemasonry is still regarded with great suspicion by much of British society. As a result, the palace is determined to prevent the lodge from using Queen Elizabeth's EIIR and from calling itself the "royal" anything, since use of the Royal Household title and any related symbols require official permission.
Angry officials clearly feel the new lodge's proposed name is the last thing the Palace needs at a time when it is trying to be seen as more modern and open.
Last night, a spokesman for the Queen said: “Buckingham Palace has not, and would not, endorse this sort of arrangement. No permission has been given by the Palace for a Buckingham Palace lodge or anything similar.
“If permission is sought, it will be declined.”
The founding of the lodge has also alarmed some Royal staff who do not wish to be associated with the fraternity famed for bizarre initiation rites, mystical regalia and mysterious codes of conduct.
It is also likely to cause consternation among career women in the Palace, as it is a men-only organisation.
Non-members in Royal service are said to be fearful they will be overlooked for prestigious promotions and left unsupported in any below-stairs clashes.
The usual hysteria is flacked by the article. The BBC's go-to guy on all matters anti-Masonic, Martin Short, author of the sensationalistic screed 1998's Inside The Brotherhood, is quoted as saying, "It's a catastrophic time to start such a lodge, given all the problems facing the Royal Family at present." His book is cited in the article as having "exposed Masonic practices in the U.K." Well, I suppose, in the same way Clifford Irving "exposed" Howard Hughes. Except that Short's tripe wound up coinciding with a high-profile investigation by Home Secretary Jack Straw into the supposed influence of Masonry on the police and judiciary that spent lots of money, spilled a lot of ink, and found essentially nothing. THAT kind of exposure. The difference was Irving did two and a half years in the slammer for his lies, while Short got a regular BBC consulting gig every time the topic of the Masons comes up. But I digress.
A "Palace Insider" is quoted,
“There's a lot of consternation and rightly so. People fear a lot of business will now be conducted behind closed doors so that those who don't sign up to Freemasonry can't have any effect on it.
“They are concerned that Masons will be preferred and those who aren't Masons will be written out of the script.
“Backstairs life is already complicated enough – there are all sorts of allegiances and cliques and cabals. People fall in and out of favour and there's a lot of whispering in ears.
“The last thing the household needs is a secret society, especially one with the reputation of Freemasonry.”
The "reputation" of Freemasonry? Oh come now. I guess that makes the Duke of Kent a nefarious underworld kingpin.
Royal Household Lodge was granted a warrant by the UGLE last June, and barring regal pronouncements to the contrary, will be consecrated May 19th at London's Freemason Hall. The notion was conceived by current and past members of the Royalty Protection Squad, and the lodge is estimated to have approximately 70 members. The May celebration will involve 300 brethren, followed by dinner at London's spectacular Lincoln's Inn, one of the four ancient Inns of Court.