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Royal Medals

For outstanding achievements in biological, physical and applied sciences.

King George IV founded the Royal Medals in 1825.

The award

The three Royal Medals, also known as the Queen’s Medals, are awarded annually by the Sovereign on the recommendation of the Council of the Society. Frederick Sanger FRS, Max Perutz FRS and Francis Crick FRS are among those who have been awarded a Royal Medal.

Each year two medals are awarded for the most important contributions “to the advancement of Natural Knowledge” in the physical and biological sciences respectively. A third medal is awarded for distinguished contributions in the applied sciences.

The Royal Medals were founded by HM King George IV in 1825. Between 1826 and 1964 two medals were awarded each year. In 1965 the third medal, covering the applied sciences, was introduced on behalf of HM The Queen. The three medals are of silver gilt and are accompanied by a gift of £10,000.


The call for nominations is now closed. The next round of nominations will open in November 2016.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Premier Awards Committee. The committee will consider the nomination a maximum of 3 times, before the nomination is retired. Re-nomination is possible after 1 round has passed.

The award is open to citizens of a Commonwealth country or of the Irish Republic or those who have been ordinarily resident and working in a Commonwealth country or in the Irish Republic for a minimum of 3 years immediately prior to being proposed.

Past winners

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS was awarded the 2015 Royal Medal for her pivotal contribution in observing, analysing and understanding pulsars, one of the most important astronomical discoveries of the 20th century.

Dr Elizabeth Blackburn AC FRS was awarded the 2015 Royal Medal for her work on the prediction and discovery of telomerase and the role of telomeres in protecting and maintaining the genome.

Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith FRS was awarded the 2015 Royal Medal for his major contributions to the development of the Standard Model, particularly his success in making the case for the building the LHC.

See full list of all past winners of the Royal Medal.