Professor Stephen Hawking honoured by City of London Corporation

Professor Stephen Hawking will receive the Honorary Freedom of the City of London on Monday 6 March, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to theoretical physics and cosmology.

Widely regarded as amongst the most distinguished and prolific scientists of his generation, Professor Hawking, who celebrated his 75th birthday last month, will be presented with the City of London Corporation’s highest award at a ceremony at Guildhall.

During the ceremony, Dr Peter Kane, the Chamberlain of London, will pay tribute to his outstanding achievements, before presenting him with his illuminated Freedom scroll (or ‘resolution’) in an inscribed casket. Professor Hawking will deliver a keynote speech to guests, who will include Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley, the City’s Aldermen and the Court of Common Council, before answering questions submitted by students from the City’s schools and Academies.

Professor Stephen Hawking said:

“I am very pleased to have been granted the Honorary Freedom of the City of London and I would like to thank Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley and the City of London Corporation for this special award. I am looking forward to the ceremony in March, and to learning more about the unique traditions behind the granting of this honour.”

Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said:

“There are few people on the world stage, and not just in the field of science, who are as respected, revered and admired as Professor Stephen Hawking. He has educated and informed generations of people around the world, while continuing to push forward the boundaries of academia. He has achieved all this with courage, determination and humour, while facing the huge challenges of living with motor neurone disease. Over the course of a 50-year academic career, Professor Hawking’s achievements have been truly remarkable and it will be an absolute privilege to meet him at Guildhall and witness the award of his Honorary Freedom.”

Historical recipients of the Honorary Freedom of the City of London include William Pitt the Elder, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Robert Baden-Powell, Nelson Mandela, the Queen Mother, and the scientists, Edward Janner, who pioneered the smallpox vaccine, and Sir George Airy, the Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881.

Most recently, the Honorary Freedom was awarded to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Pulitzer Prize-winning South African human rights activist, and Sir Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.


Notes for Editors:

A small number of photographers have already been invited to Professor Hawking’s Freedom ceremony. Please note that no filming or interview opportunities will be offered.

A high resolution image of Professor Stephen Hawking is available for free use. Please contact Andrew Buckingham from the City of London Corporation’s Media Team. (see below)

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

Tel: 020 7332 1452 / Mobile: 07795 333060 / Email

About Professor Stephen Hawking:

Professor Stephen Hawking, (born 8 January 1942) is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who holds the Stephen W. Hawking chair of cosmology at Cambridge University. Currently, the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at Cambridge, he was previously the long-serving Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, the same post held by Sir Isaac Newton. His scientific work has centred on black holes and the origins of the universe. Professor Hawking’s 50-year academic career has been exceptionally distinguished, with too many honours and prizes to name. The list includes appointed Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen in 1989, member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, holder of The Copley Medal, the Albert Einstein Medal, the Eddington Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Fundamental Physics Prize. Well-known for his popular work, the professor’s first book for a general audience, A Brief History of Time, was a runaway success and stayed in the best-seller lists for over 200 weeks. He has also made appearances on The Simpsons, Star Trek, Futurama and The Big Bang Theory television shows. In 2013, his extraordinary life story was turned into an Oscar-winning film, The Theory of Everything. In recent years, the professor has also turned his attention to science in school education, co-authoring with his daughter, Lucy, the ‘George…’ book series for young readers, aimed at increasing engagement for school students with science. Using his popular appeal to engage a new generation with science is an important part of Professor Hawking’s legacy. A prolific commentator on important public, cultural and scientific issues, Professor Hawking has used his high profile to highlight the dangers faced by the human race, including global warming, over-population, caution over AI, and the risks to UK science in leaving the European Union.

About the Honorary Freedom of the City of London:

The Honorary Freedom of the City of London is the highest honour that the City of London Corporation can bestow upon an individual. When the City of London Corporation wishes to honour someone in this way, a special resolution is passed by the Court of Common Council and if it is passed, the recipient is invited to attend a special ceremony, usually, at Guildhall, (but occasionally, at the Lord Mayor’s official residence, The Mansion House), during which the Chamberlain of London admits him or her formally into the Freedom. The recipient is presented with a beautifully coloured and illuminated copy of the resolution and with a casket. Speeches are made at the ceremony by the Chamberlain of London and the recipient. The first Honorary Freedom was King Charles II, but the ceremony only started to take place on a regular basis from the middle of the 18th century, when Pitt the Elder received his Freedom. Since then, recipients have included Nelson, Wellington, Peel, Disraeli, Kitchener of Khartoum, Baden-Powell, Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, and the Queen Mother. The two most recent recipients are Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. It supports and promotes the City as a world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in, and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation. These include the Barbican Centre, Barbican Music Library, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Library, Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre, London Metropolitan Archives, a range of education provision (including five City Academies); five Thames bridges (including Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge), Central Criminal Court at Old Bailey, over 10,000 acres of open spaces (including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest), and three wholesale food markets. The City of London Corporation is London’s Port Health Authority and also runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow. For more details, visit