The world renowned, Royal Geographical Society which represents the best of Geography and geographers was founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical science and has been among the most active of the learned societies ever since. The largest geographical society in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. The Patron’s Medal and the Founder’s Medals are the highest awards of the society bestowed on those with an exceptional contribution to exploration and geography.
For the year 2003, Her Majesty The Queen approved the award to Harish Kapadia of the Patron’s Medal of the RGS for ‘contributions to geographical discovery and mountaineering in the Himalayas’. The award will be presented on the 2nd June 2003, on the exact day of the 50th anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty The Queen and coinciding with the year of the 50th Anniversary of the 1st Ascent of Everest.
The medal has an illustrious history. The medal originated as an annual gift of fifty guineas from King William IV, first made in 1831, ‘to constitute a premium for the encouragement and promotion of geographical science and discovery’. In 1839 the Society decided that ‘this sum should be converted into two gold medals of equal value, to be designated the Founder’s Medal and the Patron’s’. Both are approved by Her Majesty The Queen. The previous winners of the medals have been Rev. David Livingston, the enterprising missionary: “for his journey to the great lake of Ngami”. (1850); Lieutenant F. E. Younghusband: “for his journey from Manchuria and Pekin to Kashmir, and especially for his route-surveys and topographical notes”. (1890). Harish Kapadia is the first Asian and Indian to receive this Award in past 125 years. (Please see: Other mountaineering and Himalayan explorers who have awarded the medal)
Harish Kapadia has dedicated this Award to his son Lt. Nawang Kapadia a Gorkha officer of the 4th battalion of the 3rd Gorkha Rifles of the Indian army, who made the supreme sacrifice while defending Indian areas from terrorists in Kashmir. Harish said “He shared my passion for trekking, love for the nature and gave his life defending the Himalaya”. (Please visit: Lt. Nawang Kapadia’s web-memorial)
Lord Curzon wrote: In the introduction to his book ‘Tales of Travel‘.
“It gave me greater pleasure to be awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for exploration and research than it did to become a Minister of the Crown.”