Our relationship with the Royal Family dates back to the granting by HM Queen Victoria of the Academy’s Charter by which the Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, founded in 1826, became the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, in 1838.
Supplementary Charters have been petitioned for and successfully granted over the years since then, most recently in 2014, to enable fundamental changes in the governance of the Academy and how it can utilise its funds to legally take place. Each of these has only taken effect when it has been approved and granted by the reigning monarch. The laying of the Foundation stone of the joint Royal Scottish Academy and National Gallery building on The Mound was carried out with full masonic honours by Victoria’s Consort, HRH Prince Albert in 1850.
The Queen signs the visitor book at the 1961 Annual Exhibition.
Every Monarch (with the possible exception of HM King Edward VIII) since HM Queen Victoria has personally signed the vellum Diplomas which are presented on election to all elected Members of the Academy. Over the years the births, marriages, and deaths of key members of the Royal Family have been marked by official messages of congratulation or commiseration by the President and Council in the name of the Academy.
The Queen and Prince Philip are greeted by Sir William MacTaggart PPRSA, 1968.
Every one of our Presidents from our second, Sir William Allan to our 17th Sir Anthony Wheeler, had the honour of knighthood bestowed on them. These investitures were conducted at various of the Royal Palaces, including Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace, and even in 1937 in the Library of the RSA itself, when Her late Majesty’s father the recently crowned HM King George VI performed the ceremony on Sir George Pirie PRSA.
The Academy also made proposals as to who should be considered for the honorary position of Her (or His) Majesty’s Limner in Ordinary in Scotland. The last holder of this historic position was the late Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA RSA. It will now fall to the grace of our new monarch, HM King Charles III to name her successor should he see fit to continue the tradition.
The Queen, Prince Philip and Sir Robin Philipson PPRSA at the RSA Annual Exhibition.
Whilst much of this contact has been at a remove, we enjoyed in Her Majesty’s late Consort, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, one who took a very active interest in us. The first visit undertaken by HM Queen Elizabeth II, in company of her Consort, occurred just two months after her ascension to the throne. On 25 April 1952 we welcomed the young Queen who toured the Annual Exhibition. There were numerous subsequent visits over the rest of her reign.
Frequently these would result in HRH Prince Philip purchasing works from the exhibitions to be hung at Holyrood Palace. Prince Philip’s interest in and support of the Arts led to his being elected one of our Honorary Members. First elected an HRSA in 1963 he was at his death in 2021, just 2 months short of his 100th birthday, our most senior and longest serving Honorary Member. He was also Patron of the Friends of the RSA.
In 1976 when we celebrated our 150th Anniversary we were honoured by the presence of Her Majesty and her Consort at the celebratory dinner.
Hers has been a reign of many remarkable achievements and records, and one unlikely to be seen again. We look forward to continuing our long relationship with the Monarchy as the second Elizabethan era ends and a new age begins.