Cranfield University visited Buckingham Palace today (Thursday) to receive its sixth Queen's Anniversary Prize from HRH The Prince of Wales, with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen and his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are the highest awards in the UK for higher educational institutions. They are awarded every two years to universities and colleges who submit work judged to show excellence, innovation, impact and benefit for the institution itself and for people and society generally in the wider world.

Collecting the medal on behalf of the University was Baroness Young of Old Scone, Cranfield’s Chancellor, Sir Peter Gregson, Cranfield’s Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor and Professor Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems.

Supporting the nation’s aero-engineering students

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is for Cranfield’s work supporting the nation’s aero-engineering students. The University is home to the National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC), which brings together academics and technical specialists to deliver experiential learning for aerospace engineering students from over 20 UK universities.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: “We are honoured to be one of just a handful of academic institutions to be awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the sixth time.

This award is a tribute not only to the current and former academic, technical and support staff of NFLC, but also the thousands of students who have flown with us and gone onto become leading aerospace professionals.”

Cranfield’s fully instrumented aircraft, operating from its own Global Research Airport, offer a unique learning flight test experience for aerospace engineering students at Cranfield and other universities. NFLC also supports the development and testing of new airborne technologies and procedures for future flight.

Sir Brian Burridge, Chief Executive of the Royal Aeronautical Society, said: “Through the National Flying Laboratory Centre, Cranfield has played a significant role in the education of thousands of the nation’s aerospace engineers. This award is a fitting tribute to the work of the University in ensuring that the UK aerospace industry is one that is envied across the world.”

Fundraising campaign

The University launched a fundraising campaign in 2019 to purchase a Saab 340B aircraft to expand the educational and research capabilities of the NFLC. Cranfield, in partnership with industry and other universities, is looking to raise funds for modification of the aircraft in order to support the next generation of aerospace engineers.

Professor Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield University, said: “The NFLC is a vital national asset supporting thousands of students to realise their ambitions of becoming aerospace engineers and carrying out transformational research. Our flying capability, combined with our research airport, digital tower and new facilities such as the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) position Cranfield as a global leader in aviation and aerospace.”

Cranfield is one of only six universities to have won the prize on six or more occasions.

In 2017, in recognition of world-class excellence and achievement in research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide. The first time in the Prize’s history that an award was given for soil science;

in 2015, in recognition of its education and research on water and sanitation for developing countries. Over a 25-year period, Cranfield has pioneered improved water services improving the quality of lives and livelihoods in the most impoverished parts of the world;

in 2011, for its world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation, which has made a major contribution to international aviation safety;

in 2007, for its international role in humanitarian demining; through integrated training programmes, consultancies and in-country support, the University played a unique role in developing sustainable national capacities in landmine clearing; and

in 2005, for its Fellowship in Manufacturing Management; a unique and innovative programme designed for strategic-level managers with careers in the manufacturing industry.


Notes for editors

About The Royal Anniversary Trust

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are managed by the Royal Anniversary Trust – an independent charity registered in England, No. 1,000,000. The Trust was established in 1990 as a mechanism through which the nation could mark, during 1992, the 40th anniversary of The Queen’s accession and express appreciation for her four decades of service as Head of State.


About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.