Arthur William Patrick Albert, His Royal Highness; Prince of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Duke of Saxony, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn; KG KT KP RFRS(8 Nov 1906), Freemason. (1 May 1850 - 16 January 1906)
Arthur William Patrick Albert was born on 1 May 1850, the 3rd son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His other brothers were Albert Edward, Alfred, and Leopold (his younger brother). He was educated privately and at the age of 16 years he entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. On graduation he was commissioned as a Lieutenant. Army life clearly suited him for he served in the Army for 41 years.
Upon the death of his nephew, Prince Alfred of Edinburgh, he succeeded into the direct line of succession to the title and privileges of the Duke and Duchy of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. However, he renounced this to his nephew, Prince Charles Edward, son of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany.In 1874, the titles of The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Earl of Sussex were conferred upon Arthur by his mother, Queen Victoria.
On 13 March 1879, Prince Arthur married Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, a great niece of the German Emperor. They had 3 children – Margaret Victoria Charlotte Augusta Norah, Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert, Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth. Their country home was Bagshot Park, Surrey and after 1900 their London home was Clarence House. The Duke and Duchess had 7 grandchildren – Princes Gustaf Adolf, Bertil, Sigvard, Carl John and Princess Ingrid of Sweden, Alastair Arthur Windsor, 2nd Duke of Connaught and Strathearn*, Captain Alexander Arthur Alfonso David Maule Ramsay of Mar DL.
* The Earl of Strathearn is the title used by HRH The Duke of Cambridge when in Scotland.
Connaught was Great Master of the Order of the Bath(1901), Royal Victoria Chain(1902) and Full Member(1902), Inspector –General of the Forces(1904-1907), appointed Governor-General, Canada(1911), Grand Prior of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. In 1910, he opened the first parliament of The Union of South of Africa.
Connaught’s Masonic CV is as impressive as that of his brother, The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. He was initiated on 24 March 1874 in the Prince of Wales Lodge No 259. The Brethren of the Lodge were permitted to wear a ‘Garter Blue border’ on their aprons by order of a warrant signed by HRH The Duke of Sussex, Grand Master, dated 13 December 1830. In 1877, Connaught became Senior Grand Warden in the United Grand Lodge of England; further promotions followed – Provincial Grand Master of Sussex(1886-1901), District Grand Master of Bombay(1887-1901), Past Grand Master(1890), Grand Master(17 July 1901 – 1 March 1939;in other Constitutions and Orders – Honorary Member, Grand Lodge of Scotland(1878), Honorary Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Ireland(1928), Grand Superintendent of Bombay(188 8 – 1901), Past 1st Grand Principal(1891), Supreme Grand Chapter of England(1891), 1st Grand Principal(1901 -1939), Supreme Grand Chapter of England(1901 – 1939), Provincial Grand Master, Mark Master Masons of Sussex(1890 – 1901), Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons(1891), Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Marks Master Masons(1901 – 1939), Great Prior of Ireland(1878- 1895), Grand Master of the Great Priory of United Orders in Great Britain and Ireland(1908 -1942), 33 Degree, Ancient and Accepted Rite of England and Wales(1878), Grand Patron of the Order(1911 – 1942)
Connaught was elected 37 times as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn died on 16 January 1942 at the age of 91 years, 8 months, and 15 days. He was buried in the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore on 19 March 1942.
Note – Connaught’s connections with Irish Freemasonry
The following information was extracted by Brother William C. Shepherdson Past PGM of Glasgow from The History of the Grand Lodge of Ireland Volume 2 – R.E. Parkinson, Published 1957.
23 April 1877 – Connaught was exalted to the Royal Arch Degree in Royal Arch Chapter No. 12
28 April 1877 – Installed H.K.T. (High Knight Templar) in Kilmainham Preceptory; remained as a Subscribing Member until his death. 3 May 1877 – Grand Lodge gave permission for the Grand Lodge Room to be used for the Installation of H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught as Great Prior of Ireland of the Order of the Temple.
28 January 1878 – Installed as Preceptor of the Preceptory; installed as Greta Prior, invested as Knight Grand Cross by Lord Powerscourt as Deputy of the Prince of Wales, Grand Master.
19 July 1895 – Connaught continued as Great Prior until the dissolution of the Convent General; resumes the title of Grand Master, until his death. Connaught had ruled over the Templars in Ireland for an unequalled period of 64 years.
1927 Honorary Past Grand Rank was awarded to several distinguished Freemasons.
1928 – H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught was awarded the Honorary Grand Rank of Past Grand Master.
Article prepared and submitted by Brother Alistair Henderson, IPPGM and Past Master of Lodge St. John Whiteinch No. 683.