It was 100 years ago, in the year 1912, that Loyal Ulstermen, in massive show of solidarity displayed their unwavering desire to remain part of the Union. This show of strength under the direction and leadership of Sir Edward Carson became known as the Balmoral Review and a massive rally was called in the City of Belfast. The date was 9th April, 1912 and no less than 200,000 men pledged their loyalty to the Crown and Constitution. History shows that the actions of these men was instrumental in maintaining British rule in the Province and ensured that Northern Ireland would remain an integral part of the United Kingdom. .
2012 marks the 100th year anniversary of the signing of this agreement. In remembrance of this auspicious occasion the Loyal Orders have sought to unite in a common bond to display a united front and reaffirm that Northern Irelands position is as safe today as ever it was within the United Kingdom. Various activities have been arranged throughout the year to commemorate and celebrate the unparalleled loyalty which our forefathers displayed. This years celebrations have commenced with a parade in Belfast on 19th May 2012, and a larger parade to take place to Stormont on Saturday 29th September 2012, to be known as the Ulster Covenant Parade.
19th May 2012 - Parade
The parade assembled at several locations throughout the City, and the streets of Belfast played host to a colourful display of Protestant Culture. In a dignified and orderly manner 1000,s paraded their colours and showed their loyalty to the British Crown. Organising the event was the County Grand Lodge of Belfast, in association with the centenary committee. The invitation was extended to the Orange Order, Independent Orange Institution, the Black Institution, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, along with ordinary loyalists with no affiliation to any particular Institution.
The Independent County Grand Lodge of England under the leadership of our County Grand Master Bro Stephen Bell led the delegation of English brethren. Bro Bell joined the Imperial Grand Master Bro Alan McLean at the front of the Independent Orange brethren along with Bro William Spence representing Scotland. The Independent Institution from each of the three countries were given a warm and friendly welcome from Senior Officers within the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
The streets were packed with thousands of supporters as they watched the parade make its way to Ormeau Park and there listened to a brief address from Bro, Rev Mervyn Gibson County Grand Lodge Chaplin, who gave a short explanation of the motives of the parade, hymns were sung, and the day was committed to God in prayer.
The Imperial Flute Band from Liverpool took to the platform and entertained the crowd with their melodies of tunes from bye gone days of yore. Being dressed in period costume the Imperial Flute Band did the mainland a great service and it was tremendous to see a loyalist band from England make such a valuable contribution. Among other bands to take part were Greengages Thistle from Ulster dressed in the uniform of the 36th Ulster Division, who proceeded to entertain the onlookers with loyalist tunes.
A short parade to the buses ended a most memorable day which will be cherished in the minds of many.
The event went off peacefully and without any incidents, which is due in no small part to the hours of organisation and consultation that the Joint Unionist Centenary Committee (JUCC)** have spent.
** JUCC - (an umbrella group for the County Grand Lodge of Belfast, Orange Order, Apprentice Boys, political parties, Independent Orange Order, the 36th (Ulster) Division Memorial Association and the Somme Association )
The Independent County Grand Lodge of England would like to publically express our thanks and appreciation to the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Country Grand Lodge of Belfast, for their hospitality, invitation and warm encouragement which we received from our fellow brethren . As a member of the family of Loyal Orders we salute your vision in Uniting all Loyal Orders in this 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.
An account of the 1912 Balmoral Review can be found at:-