The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

September 09, 2022
A young Queen Elizabeth talks to a man in a suit
Her Majesty The Queen with Academy Fellow Leonard Huxley KBE FAA at the opening of the Menzies Library, Canberra, on 13 March 1963.

The Australian Academy of Science pays tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Throughout her reign, Her Majesty The Queen showed a great appreciation for the transformative power of science and technology, and travelled more widely than any other monarch.

After taking the throne in February 1952, Elizabeth II was the first reigning monarch of Australia to set foot on Australian soil, arriving on 3 February 1954 with her husband HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

One month before, Her Majesty affixed her official seal to the founding document of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Charter, after Fellows of the Royal Society of London, Sir Mark Oliphant and Dr David Martyn, led a petition to establish a Learned Academy in Australia.

Prince Philip – who had recently become a Royal Fellow of the Royal Society of London and was a keen supporter of science – was asked to present the Australian Academy of Science’s new Royal Charter to the petitioners, but he suggested the occasion was important enough for Her Majesty to present the Charter.

On 16 February 1954, the ten members of the provisional Council of the Academy went to Government House and the Queen handed Oliphant, as President, the Royal Charter of the Academy – founding the Australian Academy of Science.

A gloved hand holds a colourful embossed page of a book which has the signatures of 'Elizabeth R (Founder)' and 'Philip'
The signatures of Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in the Academy’s Charter Book.

At the opening of the Shine Dome, five years later, His Excellency Field Marshall Sir William Slim, Governor General of Australia, read the following message from Her Majesty The Queen:

“Please convey my good wishes to all assembled at the opening of the Australian Academy of Science Building on Wednesday. I am confident that the Academy, to which I presented its Charter five years ago, will play a significant part in the acquisition of scientific knowledge and in applying it to the progress and welfare of my subjects in the Commonwealth of Australia.”

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is succeeded by her son, King Charles lll.

The Australian Academy of Science offers its sincerest condolences to the Royal Family. May she rest in peace.

Information and images for this story were sourced from the Academy’s Basser Library and Fenner Archives, which hold a rich historical collection documenting the history of science in Australia. The archives are open to the public by appointment.

© 2023 Australian Academy of Science