Princess Royal at special graduation ceremony

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay will confer an honorary degree on Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at a prestigious graduation ceremony taking place next week at the University of Aberdeen.

The Duchess of Rothesay is Chancellor of the University and will preside over the ceremony, which will also recognise a world-leading clinical trials scientist, as well as a charity which encourages young people into sport, the arts and culture, while helping to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The Princess Royal – who started undertaking public engagements at the age of 18 – was nominated by the University for an honorary degree in recognition of her extensive charity work.

The special ceremony will be attended by Aberdeen-born former footballer Denis Law CBE as the principal’s award for outstanding service to the community will be presented to the Denis Law Legacy Trust, which provides free outreach projects to children and young people in the local area and has made huge strides in reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

Professor Janet Darbyshire CBE will also receive an honorary degree at the ceremony on January 14 in recognition of and for the significant impacts she has made in clinical sciences for over 40 years.

The ceremony will feature a number of musical premiers including a piece by the University’s head of music, Dr Phillip A. Cooke entitled The Mystery of Light set to a short section of The Living Mountain (1977) by University graduate Nan Shephard (1893 – 1981).

Cooke was inspired by the text as it showcases a region with close connections to the Royal Family – the Cairngorms – and highlights the relationships between nature, place and people. It will be performed by the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir, conducted by Mr Sam Paul.

A second unique performance will see science and art come together to highlight issues of deep-sea biodiversity and sustainability. The Science Sings Choir - made up of staff from all over the University - will perform a new work The Song of the Ocean by renowned composer professor Paul Mealor, accompanied by Dr John F. Hudson, with words by the acclaimed Welsh poet and lyricist Dr Grahame Davies.

This special one-off performance, which will also be conducted by Professor Mealor, is informed by the research carried out by two leading University academics. Professor Marcel Jaspers is a chemist and a world leading authority on ocean biodiversity and Professor Abbe Brown is a legal expert well known internationally for her legal work on ocean biodiversity. They have come together to help address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions.

This performance aims to reflect the relationships between science and arts and bring greater awareness of these important environmental issues through the universal language of music.

Professor George Boyne, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said:

“The University of Aberdeen’s foundational purpose dedicates this institution to acting ‘in the service of others’. Honorary degrees and special awards are our way of acknowledging people who have made exceptional contributions to the service of others, and I am delighted we are recognising The Princess Royal, professor Janet Darbyshire and the Denis Law Legacy Trust in this way.”