Throughout history, there have been many notable Freemasons involved in a wide variety of activities.
From the world of politics and sportsmen through to literature and science, there have been many recognisable names in Freemasonry over the years.
Here, we share just some of those 'Famous Freemasons' and their journeys in Freemasonry.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh started his life in Freemasonry in 1952, at the age of 31. He was initiated into Navy Lodge No. 2612, on 5 December.
On 6 March 1953, HRH Prince Philip progressed to the Second Degree of Freemasonry, before advancing to the Third Degree on 4 May 1953. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) issued his Grand Lodge Certificate on 7 May that same year and he has remained a member to this day.
The Duke of Edinburgh was born in Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He therefore also held the title Prince of Greece and Denmark.
Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Prince Louis, who was Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord. He had a long and successful career in the Navy and rose to the rank of Commander.
Prince Philip was also a qualified pilot and was the first member of the Royal Family ever to fly out of Buckingham Palace in a helicopter.
The Duke of Edinburgh was known to drop into meetings at his Freemasons Lodge almost unannounced. Navy Lodge has a storied past and an amazing roster of luminaries appear upon its membership roll. The Lodge prides itself on being the premier Naval Lodge in the world, with an unparalleled history that includes four monarchs as past members – King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, King George VI and King George II of the Hellenes.
The Duke of Edinburgh was patron or president of some 800 organisations, with special interests in scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, and conservation and the environment.
Freemasons can also count other members of the Royal Family among their number, including HRH The Duke of Kent, who is the longest-serving Grand Master of the UGLE.
As well as members of the Royal Family, Navy Lodge can proudly name three winners of the Victoria Cross among its past and present members; numerous Admirals, Generals, Vice-Admirals and Senior Officers; as well as other notables such as Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott – known as ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ – and many more.
Elsewhere, there is also a Duke of Edinburgh Lodge, No. 1182, Liverpool, which was issued a warrant on 2 July 1867 and was consecrated on 1 August 1867. The Lodge was named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, who was then Duke of Edinburgh. He was born on 6 August 1844, the second son of Queen Victoria.
In addition, there is a Duke of Edinburgh Lodge in London, No. 1259, which was consecrated on 4 May 1869. The Lodge was also named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, who became Duke of Edinburgh in 1866.
George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York) was born on 14 December 1895 in Sandringham, Norfolk, and was King of the United Kingdom from 1936 to 1952.
George VI was initiated in Navy Lodge No. 2612 on 2 December 1919 and was installed as its Master in 1921. An enthusiastic Freemason, he joined several Lodges and different masonic orders. He was the Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1923 and Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex from 1924 until 1937.
He was elected Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1936 and was appointed a Past Grand Master of England in 1937. Although he formally withdrew from Freemasonry after he was crowned King of England in 1937, he personally installed his brother, George, Duke of Kent, as Grand Master in 1939, the Earl of Harewood in 1943 and the Duke of Devonshire in 1948.
The Museum of Freemasonry owns several items of regalia that belonged to King George VI including aprons, jewels and sashes. An oil painting of George VI is also housed in Freemasons' Hall by Sir James Gunn alongside several photographs in the Museum collection.