Honours and awards: Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

I was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts between February 1998 and June 2018.


At the time of my election in 1998, aged twenty-five, I was one of the youngest Fellows of the Society. The Society elected to Fellowship on the basis of merit with the support of two existing Fellows required. Fellowship was then maintained based on the payment of an annual subscription.

After twenty years as a Fellow, I resigned from the Fellowship in June 2018.

During my time, the Fellowship was a body with a wide membership from all sectors and a commitment to innovative and creative ideas beyond political or ideological boundaries. Election to the Fellowship when I joined required proposal and seconding by existing Fellows and was restricted to those who were judged to have made a contribution to the arts, manufactures or commerce according to the standards then applied.

In the past few years, the RSA has changed its view of the Fellowship considerably. As of 2022, new applicants, who can fill in an online form, are now told “It is very likely that you will be accepted to the Fellowship” and there is no longer a requirement that they be proposed or seconded by existing Fellows. Indeed, there is no longer any requirement that they should demonstrate merit or accomplishment, as appointment to the Fellowship is regardless of background, qualifications or level of perceived success in their field.

The RSA also now requires of Fellows that they must “share our commitment to social change” and, according to the new Fellowship Charter, “promote a culture where equality, diversity and inclusivity are at the heart of everything we do.” In other words, the Society has now endorsed explicitly the values of the woke Left, which are not values that I share.

Whilst the Fellowship was never an honorary award, it was once rightly regarded as a prestigious learned society membership given the history and status of the Society and the distinguished make-up of the Fellowship. In my view the recent changes profoundly devalue the Fellowship to the point that it is no longer comparable with its former iteration of which I was a part.