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Royal Academy of Engineering pays tribute to its Senior Fellow, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Published: 09/04/2021

Royal Academy of Engineering logoThe Trustee Board and Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) are deeply saddened to learn of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “As our Senior Fellow, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has worked tirelessly to support the Academy right from its inception in 1976 as the Fellowship of Engineering.

“We will always be indebted to Prince Philip for his active interest in engineering and technology. His genuine enjoyment and passion for engineering were evident in his many visits to the Academy and his typically challenging discussions with the engineers he met. He has been a staunch supporter of UK industry and presented the Academy’s highest award for UK engineering, the MacRobert Award, almost every year since it began in 1969.

“No organisation could possibly have wished for a better informed or more enthusiastic patron than Prince Philip and the world of engineering will be much the poorer without his wise counsel and encouragement. We have been honoured to be able to name our premises Prince Philip House – a home for excellence in engineering, where we can all come together and address the engineering issues of the day.”

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh was always a keen advocate of the role and importance of engineering in society. He was closely connected with engineering in his early career as a Naval officer during and after World War II, and it was his vision that led subsequently to the formation of the Fellowship, later the Royal Academy of Engineering.

In 1965, His Royal Highness became President of the Council of Engineering Institutions (CEI), which was then formed of 12 professional engineering institutions. The new President was concerned that the CEI should create a path for engineers, anywhere in the profession, to reach professional status. This was achieved in 1971 with the formation of the Engineers’ Registration Board and the creation of different professional levels such as Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Prince Philip presented the first MacRobert Award at Buckingham Palace to recognise the successful development of innovative ideas in UK engineering and its contribution to national prosperity and international prestige. The 1969 Award was made jointly to Freeman, Fox & Partners for the Severn Bridge and to Rolls-Royce for the Pegasus engine.

As early as 1966, CEI members felt that a more prestigious body was needed to provide an effective voice for the profession in national affairs, to provide advice to government and to recognise eminent engineers and technologists. After discussion with the CEI, His Royal Highness set down his own vision for a Fellowship of Engineering, including what form and role it should have. Prompted by his strong support, the CEI completed the formation of the Fellowship in 1976 and the new Fellowship was announced at Guildhall on 9 February 1976. His Royal Highness stepped down as President of the CEI and assumed the title of Senior Fellow of the Fellowship of Engineering.

Some 130 engineers, drawn initially from the Royal Society and the professional engineering institutions, were invited to become Founding Fellows. The Fellowship’s inaugural meeting was held in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace on 11 June 1976.

In 1989 Prince Philip again showed his high regard for the engineering profession by agreeing to the commissioning of the Prince Philip Medal, to be "awarded periodically to an engineer of any nationality who has made an exceptional contribution to engineering as a whole through practice, management or education”.

The Fellowship grew increasingly independent of the CEI, both in its vision and activities, until in 1992 it acquired its own Royal title as the Royal Academy of Engineering. Since then, His Royal Highness has given tireless support to the Academy, attending numerous events and adding his voice to its activities, including the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

In 2012, His Royal Highness graciously agreed for the newly refurbished London home of the Academy, 3 Carlton House Terrace, to be named “Prince Philip House”.

The full statement and media contacts are available on the RAEng website.