National Geographic : 1957 Dec
President Eisenhower Presents to Prince Philip the National Geographic Society's Medal GREAT BRITAIN'S widely traveled Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, received the Special Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from the hands of President Eisenhower at the White House on October 18, 1957. The tall, blond prince, who is a British naval officer by training and profession, was awarded the honor for bringing "to millions a better understanding of our planet and its peoples" through his world travels and for his encour agement of science in Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Modestly His Royal Highness said, "I can hardly believe that this has happened," and commended The Society for its "practical and concrete contribution to better understanding between the English-speaking peoples." Ceremony in Historic Cabinet Room President Eisenhower, eighth president of the United States to present a medal on behalf of the National Geographic Society, said he counted it "a very great privilege" to act as the representative of "one of the most highly respected and esteemed organizations of our country." The presentation was made during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip to the Nation's Capital as guests of President and Mrs. Eisenhower. The officers and trustees of The Society were invited to the informal but impressive ceremony in the historic Cabinet Room. As the President and Prince Philip entered with Dr. Melville Bell Grosvenor, The So ciety's President and Editor, they faced the brilliant white glare of camera lights from a phalanx of photographers ranged along the great octagonal table around which the Presi dent meets with members of his cabinet. Before them in its case reposed the medal (page 868). "Mr. President, Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen," said Dr. Grosvenor, "first, may I thank you, Mr. President, a long-time member of the National Geographic Society, for doing the honors this morning in behalf of The Society. "Our Society exists for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge. We are happy to honor those who contribute to that goal. "Such men as Hillary and Hunt, Peary and Byrd have added to the world's geographic knowledge by reaching the heights of Everest or the uttermost ends of the earth. "But Prince Philip has made great con tributions to geography in a different way. Here are the words inscribed upon this medal: 'To His Royal Highness, the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose questing spirit has taken him to the far corners of the globe and brought to millions a better understand ing of our planet and its peoples.' "From equatorial jungles Prince Philip has traveled to the fringe of Antarctica, visiting some of the loneliest scientific stations of the IGY. One of these stations was in Graham Land. His Royal Highness gives its popula tion as '60 temporary inhabitants and several million penguins.' Another was the remote Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha. 'You may not have a TV set on Tristan,' Prince Philip has said, 'but you won't get ulcers either.' "Prince Philip's eagerness to go where the going was rough-his encouragement of sci ence and his interest in the far and hard-to reach places-his concern with those of the British Commonwealth who seldom see his like-all these qualities, plus a very human personality and a keen sense of humor, have endeared Prince Philip to millions beyond the British realm. "It is for these reasons that we honor him today. "Mr. President, here is the gold medal, designed by Mr. Felix deWeldon, a leading sculptor of this country." "Friend of So Many Americans" "Your Royal Highness," President Eisen hower said, "one of the most highly respected and esteemed organizations of our country is the National Geographic Society. "For me it is a very great privilege to act as their representative in presenting to you this medal, so well earned for the reasons given in the citation, and particularly because you are here on a state visit to our country and as the personal friend of so many Ameri cans-among whom I proudly number myself. "So it is a very great pleasure to hand you this, on behalf of The Society, and my con gratulations."