Northwestern’s Sir Fraser Stoddart remembered the late Queen Elizabeth II and his few minutes of warm conversation with her fondly. Nearly a decade before he met the King of Sweden to receive his 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Stoddart met Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace as she knighted him at the June Investiture in 2007.
“After being knighted, the queen and I had a short exchange, and I concluded she had her wits about her and had done her homework,” recalled Stoddart, a native of Scotland. He was one of three to receive knighthoods at a ceremony that included other significant honors. “The main subject of conversation among us afterwards was, ‘How did she know so much about me?’”
Before kneeling before the queen and having her place her sword on his right shoulder, Stoddart was presented by Lord Chamberlain “for services to chemistry and nanotology.” After being knighted, Stoddart stood, and Queen Elizabeth said immediately, “He got that wrong, didn’t he?” Stoddart confirmed the mistake, and the two chatted about nanotechnology, the very small scale of it and Stoddart’s work in America.
“At this point, she extends her right hand and I mine, for she leaves me with no choice,” Stoddart said. “A strong handshake is followed by a big approving smile from Her Majesty, and I am on my merry way.”