The Royal Arch Purple is a "higher degree" of initiation within the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and takes its 'Royal' title from the time when the fifth son of King George the third (also the king of Hanover)was Grand Master of the Orange Order in England. The 'Purple' comes from the cloth that was used to cloth the Ark of the Covenant. Some state it is of Masonic origin although there are many diffences in that the Royal Arch Purple Degree is constructed along Christian lines unlike any Masonic Degree. Marksman for example within the Royal Arch Purple refers to the Israelites who marked the location of the Ark of the Covenant.
It was first used in 1795 shortly after the formation of the Orange Order and was the original system put together by the founding members of the Orange Order. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland disliked the ritualism and tried to suppress it as early as 1798 however, the main reason for the opposition to the Royal Arch Purple Degree was that many rural Lodges were practicing other degrees in addition to the Royal Arch Purple degree and the gentry deemed this as unacceptable and realised the need for a central system of degrees. The Royal Arch Purple degree was practised in secrecy for a period after the Grand Lodge (in Dublin) deemed the degree illegal, however it was kept alive by the Lodges around County Armagh as it was the system of 'travel' closest to the original ritual put together by the founding members of the Orange Order in 1795. The Grand Lodge maintained their position in not recognizing the degree throughout the nineteenth and into the early 20th century until 1911, but it now recognises the Royal Arch Purple as an official Order.
The Royal Arch Purple Degree is now established as a separate Order and is widely practised as a natural step of advancement from the Orange Institution to the Royal Black Institution. The Purples lines on an Orange Sash usually donate that a member has received the Royal Arch Purple Degree.
Notes and references
- "The ritualists were those renegade Orangemen who adhered to the neo-Masonic Royal Arch Purple Order and Royal Black Preceptory degrees. Their unflinching aim was to introduce these ritualistic degrees into the Orange Institution and as a consequence make it a mirror of Freemasonry." GRAND ORANGE LODGE OF IRELAND hostility towards the RAP and Black degrees from the Evangelical Truth website
- The Orange Order from the Evangelical Truth website
- The opinions of those sympathetic to the Royal Arch Purple
- Video clip of Mohawk LOL 99 in Belfast
- Orange Chronicle