The Royal Arch is the continuation of Craft Masonry and is open to men of all faiths.
Its members are called Companions, and they meet in Chapters.
The Supreme Grand Chapter of England is the governing body of the Royal Arch in England, Wales and the Channel Island.
Chapters are ruled over by three Principals, who rule conjointly, and Supreme Grand Chapter is ruled by three Grand Principals.
Chapters under the jurisdiction of Supreme Grand Chapter of England are grouped as Metropolitan area or Provinces, which are based on the old Counties.
Overseas Chapters are grouped in Districts. Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Chapters are ruled over by a Grand Superintendent who is appointed by the First Grand Principal as his personal representative for the particular area.
The Royal Arch in England has four ceremonies: the exaltation ceremony for new members, and an installation ceremony for each of the three Principals.
The exaltation ceremony consists of two parts.
The first part is a dramatic representation of the principles of the Order, and the second part consists of three lectures in which the history, symbolism and principles of the Royal Arch are further explained.
The exaltation ceremony is based on an allegory of the Old Testament telling of the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonish captivity to rebuild the city and temple, and in clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the second temple, the exaltee makes a number of discoveries which emphasise the centrality of god to man’s life and existence and, without transgressing the bounds of religion, lead the exaltee to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him.
The Royal Arch is considered to be the completion of “pure ancient Masonry”.
In the Craft the candidate is presented with a series of eminently practical principles and tenets which if he practices them he may hope to live a life pleasing God, however he worships him, and of service to his fellow man.
But man is not simply a practical being, he has an essential spiritual aspect to his nature.
That spiritual aspect is introduced in the Third Degree, in which the candidate is led to a contemplation of man’s inevitable destiny, and becomes the central message of the Royal Arch.
In that sense “pure ancient Masonry” can be seen as a journey of self-knowledge and discovery with the Royal Arch completing the practical lessons of the Craft by a contemplation of man’s spiritual nature, not replacing but reinforcing and supporting what he has learned from his religion.