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Golden years


It is an appropriate moment to consider how architecture has fared at the hands of the monarch since 1952. The answer, leaving aside the role of the Prince of Wales (of which more later), must be: not too badly. On a simple level, the Royal Gold Medal has gone to a fair share of the British profession as opposed to overseas recipients. Gold medallists have included Lasdun, Powell, Dowson, Stirling, Foster, Rogers, the Hopkinses and, of course, this year's recipient, Archigram. Perhaps more significant is the number of knighthoods and peerages awarded over the 50 years. Here, it can scarcely be said that contemporary British architecture and its architects have gone unrewarded. Norman Foster, as an OM, has achieved the highest honour the Queen bestows; he has succeeded Sir Basil Spence (and Giles Gilbert Scott) in that respect, Spence having been for a period the country's best-known architect, along with Lord Holford and Richard Seifert.

Richard Rogers' peerage, which shortly followed his knighthood, resulted in the most politically active architect since another similar Labour stalwart from an earlier era, but still within the jubilee period, Lord LlewelynDavies. Knighthoods have been in good supply - Grimshaw, Farrell, MacCormac et al.

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