Right royal appointment

May 16, 2013

It is regrettable that a publication written mainly for academics should choose to cover The Sunday Times’ version of the facts about the election of the Duke of York as a royal fellow of the Royal Society (The week in higher education, 9 May). Eighty-five per cent of those who voted supported the election, and while the ballot paper did only have a box to vote “yes” to confirm the nomination of the society’s council - the elected representatives of the fellowship - explicit instructions were also sent to every fellow on how to register a “no” vote.

Your reporting of The Sunday Times article made reference to the fact that only 11 per cent of fellows supported the nomination, but neglected to mention that only 1.8 per cent opposed it. As is common with democratic elections, many of the electorate chose not to vote, but it is ridiculous to use this fact to speculate on their intentions.

Prince Andrew was nominated for the distinct category of royal fellow on the basis of his support for British science (and young scientists in particular) and for his work to improve the links between academic researchers and industry. These areas are vital if we are to secure the long-term success of science in the UK.

Martyn Poliakoff
Vice-president
The Royal Society

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