Provincial Grand Masters Address
We remember this day of glorious memory – when William, Prince of Orange Nassau, landed near this shoreline in 1688 – with the immortal words: ‘The Protestant liberties of England I will maintain.’The Revolution of 1688 was not a revolution at all – as William was given an invitation, signed by a representative selection of James II opponents – because of his despotic tyranny. The Protestant East Wind blew. On November 5, William and his army of French, Danes and Dutch soldiers landed at Brixham in Devon and proceeded almost unopposed to London. The news of the Willamite landing in Torbay gave those gallant 13 Apprentice Boys the impetus to slam shut the gates of the Maiden City, Londonderry, in the face of an advancing Jacobite army. James fled to France, and the so-called Convention Parliament, summoned in January 1689, declared that James had abdicated and offered the vacant throne, with an accompanying Declaration of Rights, to William and his wife Mary (who was the Protestant daughter of the fleeing James). William and Mary were jointly proclaimed in February and crowned on April 21 1689. The crown of Scotland was offered to them in the same month. Under William’s joint reign the following landmark laws passed in to Statute: The Bill of Rights (1689), a more conservative document than even the declaration, was passed into law, but it established the principle that only a Protestant could wear the crown of England. A new Coronation Oath required required the monarch to uphold Protestantism and the statutes, laws, and customs of the realm. The Toleration Act (1689) accepted for the first time the right of other forms of worship. Although this act did not give full rights, it paved the way to future tolerance. The Mutiny Act (1689) restrained the monarch's control over military forces in England by restricting the use of martial law. Never, again, could a Monarch wage war on the people. The Bank of England was incorporated by act of Parliament in 1694. A Royal Charter allowed the bank to operate as a joint-stock bank with limited liability. Also in 1694, The Triennial Act, which re-established the principle of regular parliamentary sessions. that, as a nation, we could determine our own destiny – liberated from foreign interference. This is freedom! Those freedoms that have been hard fought for and won over many hundreds of years from the battle of the Boyne in 1690 to Blenheim in 1704, Waterloo and Trafalgar, Crimea, The Boer War, the First World War 1914-1918, The second World War 1939-1945, The Korean War, 1951-1953, Suez, Aden and the Radfan, Borneo and Sarawak, Northern Ireland since 1969, The Falklands 1981, Kuwait 1991, Kosovo, Afghanistan and now, again Iraq, are under threat today. The whole world is threatened by the spectre of terrorism. Islamic fundamentalists strive to destroy all that we, in the predominantly Christian West, believe. Parliamentary Democracy and freedom under the law! They seek to wipe out their own brothers and sisters in the faith of Islam because they dare to question the fundamentalists’ deceit, despotic tyranny and interpretation of the Holy Koran. The fascist right and Marxist left exploit the situation and the rise of neo-nazi groups are again prevalent. We must be ever vigilant, “be on our guard both day and night and keep ourselves secure.” The ordinary citizen strives to live in peace and harmony with his neighbours, to bring up his family and to secure the future free from fear and abuse. In some cities our streets are haunted with gangs of youths roaming about terrorising the citizenry, targeting the aged and less well off. Yet some of our politicians see laws to curb these excesses as an attack on the thugs and criminals Human Rights. They forget about the rights of the individual victims and their families. Throughout the land we have individuals demanding their rights but pointedly abrogating their responsibilities. With rights comes responsibilities, we must exercise both! We should ensure that those who seek to represent us as elected Councillors and Members of Parliament are conversant with our views and will actively campaign to maintain our way of life and to seek to better it. If not then we should not support them! In the United Kingdom we see a once proud, tolerant society, now fearful and suspicious of people from foreign lands. People who have fled their own homelands seeking succour in the land once described as the Mother of Democracy. We must stand firm in our Christian beliefs, stand firm in our toleration of others to be different, stand firm in the respect we were taught to give others, stand firm in the belief of the Religion of the Reformation and the Protestant Cause. The Protestant Cause has guaranteed our freedoms and the freedoms of others under the law. Sisters and brethren, “the truth shall set you free” - Protestantism is freedom.