The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Founded on 28 November 1660 under the reign of Charles II by a group of 10 natural philosophers, the name The Royal Society first appears in print in 1661.
The backbone of the Society is its Fellowship, which is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth.
From the beginning, Fellows of the Society had to be elected, although the criteria for election were vague and the vast majority of the Fellowship were not professional scientists. In 1731 a new rule established that each candidate for election had to be proposed in writing and this written certificate signed by those who supported his candidature.
Fellows and Foreign Members are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science.
There are approximately 1,450 Fellows and Foreign Members, including more than 80 Nobel Laureates. Current Fellows include Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Harry Kroto, Tim Berners-Lee, Paul Nurse and John Sulston.
Among the former fellows of the Royal Society are Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Babbage, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Darwin, while Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, Paul Erdos and Sigmund Freud are among the Foreign Members.
There are currently five members of the Royal Family who have been elected as Royal Fellows (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II being Society’s patron).
The Society’s main offices are on Carlton House Terrace in Central London in a building designed by John Nash (who designed the famous Buckingham Palace, Royal Pavilions, Regent street and Marble Arch among others) in 1827.
It is five minutes walk to Piccadilly Circus underground station and ten minutes to Charing Cross mainline and underground stations, or 20 minutes through St James's Park to Victoria. Trafalgar Square, and all bus services through it, are also very close.
Useful information about the public transport in London can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk.