RSE President receives top Honour from Her Majesty The Queen

RSE President receives top Honour from Her Majesty The Queen

The distinguished academic and President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, has been awarded Scotland’s top honour by Her Majesty The Queen. Stewart Sutherland has been appointed to be a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle – a prestigious honour awarded for outstanding service to Scotland, held by only sixteen people, a number of whom are Fellows of the RSE.

Dr Eric Anderson, Provost of Eton College and a Fellow of the RSE has also today been appointed to the Order. Announced by tradition on St Andrew’s Day, appointments to the Order of the Thistle are entirely in the personal gift of The Queen and are not made on the advice of the Prime Minister, as are most other Honours. The Order of the Thistle is second only in precedence to the Order of the Garter.

RSE President Lord Sutherland, said

I’m delighted, greatly honoured and very surprised to receive this honour.

Lord Sutherland became President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh on October 28, succeeding Sir William Stewart who had completed his three year term in office. The former Principal and Vice Chancellor of The University of Edinburgh, Lord Sutherland is also currently President of the Saltire Society and Honorary President of Alzheimer Scotland/Action on Dementia. Stewart Sutherland was previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of London and is a former HM Chief Inspector of Schools in England. A member of the Board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Lord Sutherland also sits on the Government’s Council for Science and Technology. He chaired the recent Royal Commission on the Long Term Care of the Elderly, and last year, The House of Lords Appointments Commission named the then Sir Stewart Sutherland as one of 15 new independent life peers.

Dr Eric Anderson was educated at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh and gained a first class honours degree in English at St. Andrews University, where he was awarded an Honorary DLitt in 1981. For a number of years Dr Anderson was a senior figure at Fettes College and Gordonstoun. He is an authority and published author on the novels of Sir Walter Scott and recently served on the advisory board for the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley novels. Dr Anderson is presently Provost of Eton College. His other titles include: Visitor at Harris Manchester College, Oxford; Member of the Visiting Committee of Harvard University Memorial Church.

The Order of the Thistle was revived by King James II (James VII of Scotland). In 1987, The Queen decided that women should be eligible for the Thistle in the same way as men. The motto of the Order is Nemo me impune lacessit (No one provokes me with impunity). Further information about the Order and its membership is given in Notes for Editors.

Notes for News & Features Editors & Picture Desks:





Chancellor: The Most Noble Duke of BUCCLEUGH & QUEENSBERRY, K.T., V.R.D
Dean: The Very Reverend Gilleasbuig Iain MACMILLAN, C.V.O
Secretary & Lord Lyon King Of Arms: Robin ORR BLAIR, ESQ., L.V.O., W.S.
Gentleman Usher Of The Green Rod: Rear Admiral Christopher Hope LAYMAN, C.B., D.S.O., L.V.O.

The Right Honourable Francis David,The Earl of WEMYSS AND MARCH, K.T.
Colonel Sir Donald Hamish CAMERON OF LOCHIEL, K.T., C.V.O., T.D
The Most Noble Walter Francis John, Duke of BUCCLEUCH AND QUEENSBERRY, K.T., V.R.D
The Right Honourable Andrew Douglas Alexander Thomas, Earl of ELGIN AND KINCARDINE, K.T.
The Right Honourable George Morgan,
The Right Honourable David George Coke Patrick, EARL OF AIRLIE, K.T., G.C.V.O
Captain Sir Iain Mark TENNANT, K.T.
The Right Honourable George Kenneth Hotson, Viscount YOUNGER OF LECKIE, Bt., K.T., K.C.V.O.,T.D., D.L.
The Right Honourable John Campbell, Viscount of ARBUTHNOTT, K.T., C.B.E., D.S.C.
The Right Honourable Robert Alexander Lindsay, Earl of CRAWFORD AND Balcarres, K.T., G.C.V.O., D.L.
Lady Marion Anne Fraser, L.T.
The Right Honourable Norman Somerville, Lord MACFARLANE OF BEARSDEN, K.T., D.L.
The Right Honourable James Peter Hymers Mackay, Lord MACKAY OF CLASHFERN, K.T.
The Right Honourable David Clive, Lord WILSON OF TILLYORN, K.T., G.C.M.G.

The date of the foundation of the Order is not known, although legend has it that it was founded in 809 when King Achaius made an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne. It is possible that the Order may have been founded by James III (1488-1513), who was responsible for changes in royal symbolism in Scotland, including the adoption of the thistle as the royal plant badge. It is said that James V bestowed the insignia of the 'Order of the Burr or Thissil' on Francis I of France in 1535. Around the time of the Reformation, the Order was discontinued.

Although some kind of Scottish Order of chivalry existed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, or even much earlier, it was James II (James VII of Scotland) who established the Order with a statutory foundation under new rules in 1687 - to reward Scottish peers who supported the king's political and religious aims. (One statute required that the robe should be 'powdered over with thistles of gold'; a robe from that period still survives, scattered with more than 250 applied thistle motifs.) The statutes stated that the Order was 'to continue to consist of the Sovereign and twelve Knights-Brethren in allusion to the Blessed Saviour and his Twelve Apostles'.

After James II (and VII)'s abdication in 1688, the Order fell into disuse once more until it was revived by Queen Anne in 1703 - the number of knights remained at 12. Despite the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, the Old and Young Pretenders (Prince James and Prince Charles 'Bonnie Prince Charlie') appointed Knights of the Thistle (and Garter) in their exiles. The early Hanoverian kings also made use of the Order to reward Scottish nobles who supported the Hanoverian and Protestant cause.

Interest in the Order revived when George IV wore the Thistle during his visit to Scotland in 1822. A statute of 1827 established the complement of Knights Brethren at 16, and in 1987 a statute enabled ladies to join the Order. (Extra knights may be created by special statute.) The Princess Royal was invested in the Order of the Thistle in June 2001. In 1962, King Olav V of Norway became the first foreigner to be admitted to the Order for over 200 years.

The patron saint of the Order is St Andrew, who appears on the Order's badge. The breast star of the Order, instituted by George I in 1714, consists of a silver saltire with a pointed ray between each of the arms of the cross: at the centre is a gold medallion contained in an enamelled representation of the thistle, surrounded by a green border on which the Order's motto is written in gold. The motto is 'Nemo me impune lacessit' (No one harms me with impunity).

The chapel for the Order was to be at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where James II had issued instructions in 1687 for the Abbey Church to be converted into the Chapel Royal and the Chapel of the Order. However, the political situation deteriorated and, by the time it was ready for use in December 1688, the furnishings and the stalls of the Chapel had been destroyed by a rioting mob. It was not until 1911 that the Order had a chapel, adjacent to St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, in which its services and ceremonies could be held. When practicable, and when there is to be the installation of a new knight, a service of the Order is held each year during the week spent by The Queen at Holyrood.Information available on the Official Website of The British Monarchy:


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