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Why is it called the Royal Black Institution?

The colour black is the predominant colour in the sash or collarette worn by a member of the Royal Black Institution, whether on parade or during a meeting of his preceptory. The full title of the Institution is "The Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth".

When was the Institution founded?

The Royal Black Institution was founded in Ireland in 1797, though records for this earliest period in the Institution 's existence are scant. The earliest printed record of the Institution 's workings are dated 1858 and were printed in Downpatrick.

How widely is the Institution spread?

In 1999 the Royal Black Institution claimed working preceptories (the working units of the Institution, equivalent to the "lodges " of other fraternal organisations) across the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, as well as in the counties of Cavan and Monaghan in the Irish Republic. The Institution is also strong in Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States of America, and in the West African countries of Ghana and Togo. The Institution is multi-racial, multi-lingual and is not connected with any single religious denomination. Members are welcomed as honoured guests in preceptories across the world when travelling for business or pleasure.

What are the qualifications expected of a member?

Applicants to a preceptory within the Royal Black Institution must have attained the age of eighteen years and held the Royal Arch Purple degree of the Loyal Orange Institution for a minimum of three months. They must be active members of a Protestant denomination, and must subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as held by the Protestant churches. As members they must conduct themselves with the dignity and restraint appropriate to the Institution. Prospective members of the Royal Black Institution should approach a member of a local preceptory for specific details of the application process. Membership of a Royal Black Preceptory will not compromise a personal commitment to the Christian Faith: the workings of the Royal Black Institution are all derived from the Bible, and the Bible and its teachings are central to both the Institution and the everyday lives of its members. We provide a fraternal and supportive meeting-place for Bible-believing Protestants, as well as offering practical support to the propagation of the Gospel.

Is the Institution connected with any other organisations or orders?

Members of the Royal Black Institution, known as Sir Knights, are also holders of the highest degree of the Orange Order, that of the Royal Arch Purple. The Royal Black Institution is, however, wholly independent of the Orange Order. Members of the Institution may also be members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (Londonderry) or other loyal organisations, though the business of these other bodies is not discussed during the meetings of the Royal Black. Despite the appearance of some of the emblems displayed on Black collarettes the Royal Black Institution is not a branch of Freemasonry.

The above answers to a number of FAQs are supplied by a member of RBP 447, rather than by the central offices of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth itself. Requests for definitive statements and other information should be addressed to the Press Officer at the Royal Black Institution's headquarters, Brownlow House, Lurgan, Craigavon, Northern Ireland.

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This is a body separate from Orangeism and accepts members from throughout the Protestant Community. This body is in fact the Parent of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter (described above). This Institution is the oldest Protestant Fraternity in existence having assisted John Knox at the time of the Reformation in Scotland.

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