The Royal Medal, also known as The Queen's Medal and The King's Medal (depending on the gender of the monarch at the time of the award), is a silver-gilt medal, of which three are awarded each year by the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, re ...
, two for "the most important contributions to the advancement of natural knowledge" and one for "distinguished contributions in the applied sciences", done within the Commonwealth of Nations.


The award was created by George IV and awarded first during 1826. Initially there were two medals awarded, both for the most important discovery within the year previous, a time period which was lengthened to five years and then shortened to three. The format was endorsed by
William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death in 1837. The third son of George III, William succeeded h ...
and Victoria, who had the conditions changed during 1837 so that
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
was a subject for which a Royal Medal could be awarded, albeit only every third year. The conditions were changed again during 1850 so that:
... the Royal Medals in each year should be awarded for the two most important contributions to the advancement of Natural Knowledge, published originally in Her Majesty's dominions within a period of not more than ten years and not less than one year of the date of the award, subject, of course, to Her Majesty's approval. ... in the award of the Royal Medals, one should be given in each of the two great divisions of Natural Knowledge.
During 1965, the system was changed to its current format, in which three Medals are awarded annually by the Monarch on the recommendation of the Royal Society Council. Because of its dual nature (for both physical and biological science) the award winners are chosen by both the A- and B-side Award Committees. Since its establishment during 1826 the medal has been awarded 405 times. The award is only given to eminent scientists who are British citizens and residents only.

Recent Winners

Image:Ann Dowling in Cambridge 2011.jpg, Dowling: Professor, Cambridge University, 2019. Image:Lewis Wolpert.jpg, Wolpert: Professor, UCL, UK, 2018. Image:Tony_Hunter.jpg, Hunter: Professor, Salk Institute, US, 2014. Image:TH-Head-Sakurai.jpg, Kibble: Professor, Imperial College, UK, 2012.

Full list of recipients


{{RoySoc Awards of the Royal Society Silver-gilt objects 1826 establishments in the United Kingdom 1826 in science Awards established in 1826