The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, possibly the oldest in existence. It’s a scientific advisor to the British government. The Society also acts as the UK’s Academy of Sciences.
Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the ‘Royal Society of London’. The Society is governed by its Council, which is chaired by the Society’s President, according to a set of Statutes and Standing Orders. The members of Council and the President are elected from and by its Fellows, the basic members of the Society, who are themselves elected by existing Fellows. There are currently 1,314 Fellows, allowed to use the title FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society), with 44 new Fellows appointed each year. There are also Royal Fellows, Honorary Fellows and Foreign Fellows, the last of whom are allowed to use their title ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society).
The Society has a variety of functions and activities. It supports modern science; it finances approximately 700 research fellowships for both early and late career scientists, along with innovation, mobility and research capacity grants. Through its Science Policy Centre, the Society acts as an advisor to the European Commission and the United Nations on matters of science. Since the middle of the 18th century, government problems involving science were occasionally referred to the Society, and by 1800 it was done regularly.
Since 1967, the Society has been based at 6–9 Carlton House Terrace, a Grade I listed building in central London. The building is owned by the Crown Estates and leased by the Society; it underwent major renovation from 2001 to 2004, and was reopened by the Prince of Wales on 7 July 2004.
The ground floor and basement are used for ceremonies, social and publicity events; the first floor hosts facilities for Fellows and Officers of the Society; and the second and third floors are divided between offices and accommodation for the President, Executive Secretary and Fellows.
New waiting, exhibition and reception rooms were created in the house at No.7, using the Magna Boschi marble found in No.8, and greenish grey Statuario Venato marble was used in other areas to standardise the design.
An effort was also made to make the layout of the buildings easier, consolidating all the offices on one floor, Fellows’ Rooms on another and all the accommodation on a third.