23 May 1955: Prince Philip becomes the first honorary Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society

The day that the Duke of Edinburgh accepted an honour from the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

On 12 February 1955, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, had “graciously accepted an invitation to be an honorary Fellow” of the then Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. He was the first person to be given the honour.

Three months later, on 23 May 1955, Prince Philip attended a reception to celebrate the Society’s new constitution formed after his wife, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, became Patron of the Society in 1953.

Prince Philip Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Top picture shows the certificate of honorary fellowship of the Society being presented to His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, by the President (Mr. E.A. Brocklehurst).
1. The Duke at the stand on the exhibition where immunological products (including the Salk vaccine) were on show. Behind him are Dr. F. Hartley and Mr F.W. Adams.
2. Surgeon Rear Admiral S.G. Rainsford, Deputy Medical Director-General of the Royal Navy.
3. Mr. M. Costello (president, Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland) and Mrs. Costello.
4. Mr. W.P. Ewart (president, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland).
5. The President of the Society and Mrs. Brocklehurst receiving Dr. Wooldridge, president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
6. Mr. S. Hughan, chairman of the Scottish Department of the Society.
7. The chairman of the British Pharmaceutical Conference and Mrs. Todd, Dr. D. McCall, Mrs. and Mr. C.W. Macfarlane.
8. The chairman of the Statutory Committee and Lady Cairns.
9. Mr. Justice Glyn-Jones.
10. The Vice-President of the Society and Mrs. Steinman.


The reception was held at the headquarters of the Royal Institution of British Architects in Portland Place, London, which The Pharmaceutical Journal said “formed a perfect setting” and had been loaned to the Society for the occasion.

The guest list included dignitaries from government, academia and the pharmaceutical industry, including Dame Enid Russell-Smith, undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, Professor Sir Henry Platt, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Sir Cecil Wakeley, master of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.

The journal reported that they were welcomed at the “head of the marble staircase” by then president of the Society Mr E. A. Brocklehurst and his wife, before Prince Philip arrived at 9pm. He was then escorted to a room “where members of Council and officers of the Society with their ladies had assembled” and was formally invited to become an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Prince Philip was presented with his certificate of honorary Fellowship and was then shown around an exhibition showcasing the contributions made by the pharmaceutical industry to medical science.

This exhibition was created at the “specific request” of Prince Philip and he showed particular interest in exhibition displays illustrating “the manufacture and uses of antibiotics, antimalarials, the sulphonamides, veterinary medicine, and vaccines”, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported.

The journal added that it was “evident by the questions which he asked that he had a keen appreciation of the principles on which the use of many of the substances shown is based”.

The prince was then shown the Walt Disney film “The Water Birds” and left the reception at 11:30pm.

The evening ended with dancing.

The news report of the reception to commemorate the Society’s new constitution


RPS remembers its first honorary Fellow

Prince Philip passed away on 9 April 2021, aged 99 years.

Paul Bennett, chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said that the Society was “deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh the week before our 180th anniversary.

“Her Majesty The Queen is our Patron and we are blessed with her continued, much valued and appreciated royal patronage. As a mark of respect to Her Majesty, we have delayed any external celebration of our anniversary until a more suitable moment.

“With the passing of her loyal and much loved consort of more than 70 years, we recognise this will be an extremely difficult time for the Queen. On behalf of our members and the whole profession, we have sent a message of condolence to her and the Royal Family.” The Royal Pharmaceutical Society shared its condolences with the Royal Family through the online book of condolence.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2021, Vol 306, No 7948;306(7948)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.78403

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