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Princess Anne takes part in appointing first Geographer Royal since Victorian era

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society has appointed the first Geographer Royal for Scotland in 118 years, and The Princess Royal was on hand for the event.

Sir Robert Sibbald, was the first Geographer Royal for Scotland, appointed 333 years ago in September 1682.

Sir Robert Sibbald, was the first Geographer Royal for Scotland, appointed 333 years ago in September 1682.

On Tuesday, Professor Charles Withers, Ogilvie Chair of Geography at the University of Edinburgh, was presented the post at a ceremony in Perth.

Professor Withers will work as a national and international ambassador, advancing the field in research and education.

Prof Withers said he was honoured for himself and the university, but said the real recognition “is for geography”.

A Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Prof Withers was conferred the title by Princess Anne during a ceremony at the Society’s headquarters in Perth. He was delighted and noted that the real credit “is for geography.”

Princess Anne stated: “There is no doubt that raising the profile of geography is a very important aspect of what we want to do. We are grateful that Professor Withers has accepted this title, and we hope that it will increase the enthusiasm for and understanding of geography.”

“2015 is the perfect year for the reintroduction of the Geographer Royal for Scotland, with various geographical issues from local and international geopolitical change to sustainable development goals to climate negotiations in Paris, to migration issues, transport, digital mapping, health and land reform,” noted Mike Roberts, Cheif Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Established in 1884, The Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) is based in Perth.

Sir Robert Sibbald, was the first Geographer Royal for Scotland, appointed 333 years ago in September 1682. His purpose was to give geographic and mapping help to King Charles II.

Sibbald was one of the foremost intellectuals of the day and first professor of medicine at Edinburgh University. He was also co-founder of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

There have only been four men who help the position of Geographer Royal before Prof Withers. The last having been George Harvey Johnston in 1897 and bestowed by Queen Victoria.

After his position had been dissolved, the related titles, ‘Cartographer to the King’ bestowed as a corporate warrant to the Bartholomew map-making firm.

Approved by The Queen and the Scottish government, Withers will hold the title for six years before it up for review.

Featured Photo Credit: The Open University via Flickr

Photo Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Sir Robert Sibbald. Line engraving by W. H. Lizars after J. Alexander. By: William Home LizarsPublished: –

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