It was with great sadness that we learned today of the death of Her Majesty The Queen.

Her Majesty is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, having lived to the age of 96 and reigned for 70 years. Despite her advanced years, Her Majesty always enjoyed good health and her energy, perspicuity and commitment to her role have been nothing short of remarkable.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell PPRSE with Her Majesty, The Queen | 2017 | Picture by Gary Doak

Royal Patronage of the RSE began when His Majesty George III declared himself Founder and Patron of the Society in 1811. However, the RSE is required to request patronage from each monarch on their succession to the throne. RSE Council Minutes for Monday 7 July 1952 noted that ‘Her Majesty The Queen has graciously granted Her Patronage to the Society.’

The RSE was honoured to receive visits from Her Majesty on three occasions:

  • On 29 June 1983, Her Majesty visited Edinburgh to mark the bicentenary of the RSE (1783–1983), and to open the reconstructed rooms and new lecture theatre in George Street.
  • In 2000, RSE Royal Medals were created to celebrate the Millennium. They serve to recognise the achievement of the highest order in all intellectual fields and they have been awarded annually since 2000, all with the express approval of Her Majesty. The first Royal Medals were awarded by Her Majesty in person at the RSE in July 2000. The first recipients were: the late Professor Sir Kenneth Murray FRS FRSE, for his ground-breaking work in developing a vaccine for Hepatitis B, improving healthcare worldwide; Professor Peter Higgs CH FRSE, for offering a key to the problem of the origin of mass (prior to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013); and the late Rt Hon The Lord Perry of Walton OBE FRSE, for his outstanding career in science and education and for his pioneering work in developing the Open University.
  • Most recently, Her Majesty visited on Friday 7 July 2017 to present Royal Medals to: Corresponding Fellow, Professor Peter Boyle, for his outstanding contribution to global cancer control and public health policy; and to the late Professor Tessa Holyoake FRSE, for her discovery of the existence of cancer stem cells in Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia and her development of a new therapy for this condition.

Professor Sir John Ball FRS FRSE, President of the RSE said:

We have been honoured to recognise Her Majesty The Queen as our Patron for a remarkable 70 years. Throughout this time, she showed a keen interest in the RSE and its activities and always made her presence felt, most notably in authorising the creation of the RSE Medals in 2000 and approving each of the distinguished awardees since. We join the nation in expressing our sadness at her passing.