Twelfth of July 2024: What is the Orange Order?

Bandsmen and Orange Order members take part in an Orange Order parade in  Belfast, as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations
-Credit: (Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

It's that time of year again when preparations for the Twelfth of July start to pick up.

Right at the heart of celebrations is the Orange Order.

Here are some of the things you need to know about the organisation.

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The Orange Order is a Protestant fraternity, with members around the world.

And it's not just a Northern Ireland thing either, with Grand Lodges in Scotland, England, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and West Africa.

The name of the organisation stems from Protestant William of Orange, who defeated the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.

Support for William of Orange across the British Isles led to the formation of Orange Societies to commemorate the victory. The biggest and longest-lasting groups were the Boyne Societies in Ireland.

More than 100 years later in 1795, Protestants formed a body drawing on existing Orange Clubs.

It was called the Loyal Orange Institution, and continues to function in modern times with thousands of members in Ireland, and others across the world.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was established in 1798.

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