Queen Elizabeth reinforced her family's association with Imperial College London this week as she and the Duke of Edinburgh joined the educational establishment for its centenary celebrations. The link between the royal family and the college goes back to Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, who purchased the land on which the college stands with the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851. His intention was to establish a centre of science and culture in the heart of London.
"It's thanks to Albert's determination that we are celebrating our 100th birthday today, so it's a great honour and very fitting that his descendants have agreed to join us, especially as they both continue his efforts to promote UK science and industry," said the science institution's rector Sir Richard Sykes.
After she officially opened the new Institute of Biomedical Engineering - where Prince Philip was invited to practise his operating skills on a life-like dummy in the robotic surgery suit - the royal couple took part in the centenary ceremony. The Duke was among the five recipients of the first honorary degrees granted after the college became a university in its own right.
Wearing the college's new ceremonial purple robes, the Prince was recognised for his initiatives for young people as well as his support for scientific and technological research. Philanthropist Lily Safra and Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned of Qatar were among the other distinguished recipients.