Professor Stephen Hawking awarded Honorary Freedom of the City of London

Previous recipients of rare honour include world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Professor Stephen Hawking will be awarded Honorary Freedom of the City of London on Monday - the highest honour that the City can bestow.

In honour of his outstanding contribution to theoretical physics Professor Hawking, who has previously turned down a knighthood, will be presented with an illuminated Freedom scroll by Dr Peter Kane, chamberlain of London. 

During the ceremony at the Guildhall the physicist will deliver a keynote speech to an audience which will include Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley.

In February, when the City first announced the honour, Hawking said: “I am very pleased to have been granted the Honorary Freedom of the City of London and I would like to thank Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley and the City of London Corporation for this special award. I am looking forward to the ceremony in March, and to learning more about the unique traditions behind the granting of this honour.”

The Lord Mayor said added: “There are few people on the world stage, and not just in the field of science, who are as respected, revered and admired as Professor Stephen Hawking.

“He has educated and informed generations of people around the world, while continuing to push forward the boundaries of academia. He has achieved all this with courage, determination and humour, while facing the huge challenges of living with motor neurone disease.

“Over the course of a 50-year academic career, Professor Hawking’s achievements have been truly remarkable and it will be an absolute privilege to meet him at Guildhall and witness the award of his Honorary Freedom.”

Professor Hawking will join an esteemed list of people to have been awarded thr City of London’s highest award. Recipients include world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Most famous for his book A Brief History of Time and his work on schemes like the $100m Starshot interstellar travel project, Professor Hawking is also known for his wry sense of humour. 

At the launch of the Starshot project, designed to send a craft to our nearest stellar neighbours and perhaps send back images of habitable planets, he was asked what intelligent life might look like on other worlds.

In a jab at the Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Professor Hawking quipped, “Judging from the election campaign, definitely not like us.”