Skip to main content

The Royal Society

Main page content

The Royal Society

The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society still in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London" on 15 July 1662. The reigning monarch has always been the patron of the Royal Society since its foundation. The Society today acts as a scientific advisor to the British government, receiving a parliamentary grant-in-aid. The Society acts as the UK's Academy of Sciences, and funds research fellowships and scientific start-up companies.

The motto of the Royal Society is Nullius in Verba which is Latin meaning nothing in words. This shows the Society's commitment to establishing scientific truth through experiment rather than by quoting authority.

The Society has a variety of functions and activities. It supports modern science; it finances approximately 700 research fellowships for both early and late career scientists, along with innovation, mobility and research capacity grants. Its awards, prize lectures and medals all come with prize money intended to finance research, and it provides subsidized communications and media skills courses for research scientists. In 2008, the Society opened the Royal Society Enterprise Fund, intended to invest in new scientific companies and be self-sustaining, funded (after an initial set of donations on the 350th anniversary of the Society) by the returns from its investments.

Through its Science Policy Centre, the Society acts as an advisor to the European Commission and the United Nations on matters of science. It publishes several reports a year, and serves as the Academy of Sciences of the United Kingdom. Since the middle of the 18th century, government problems involving science were irregularly referred to the Society, and by 1800 it was done regularly.

The Royal Society provides a range of grant schemes to support the UK scientific community and foster collaboration between UK based and overseas scientists

The society currently funds about 1500 researchers, including approximately 600 research fellows, through grant schemes. Nearly £42 million is allocated each year to support excellence in science. Its funding sources include Parliamentary Grant as well as donations from individuals and organizations.

For general enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7451 2500.