The Queen's Lecture series

The Queen’s Lectures were founded by Queen Elizabeth II as a gift to the City of Berlin on the occasion of her state visit in 1965. Since 1997 the Queen’s Lecture takes place at the TU Berlin. Each year a renowned British scientist delivers a lecture on her or his area of expertise. 

Have a look at some of our previous Queen's Lectures that are a joint project of the British Council Germany, TU Berlin and the British Embassy, below. 

“Whose Web is it Anyway?” – Queen’s Lecture 2014 by Dame Wendy Hall

A world of data

The Web is a critical global infrastructure. Since its emergence in the 1990s, it has exploded into hundreds of billions of pages that touch almost all aspects of modern life. We are now rapidly moving into a world of data on the Web, which gives rise to even more opportunities and challenges, as well as the world of the mobile Web, which gives us yet more degrees of freedom and at the same time constraint. 

Dame Wendy Hall

In her lecture “Whose Web is it Anyway?” Dame Wendy Hall will address the origins, current state and future of the Web, and examine the critical questions that will determine how the Web evolves as both a social and a technical network:  What impact it has had, and will continue to have, on the world, and crucially, who will determine where it is going next.

Dame Wendy Hall, DBE, FRS, FREng is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and is a Director of the Web Science Institute. She was Dean of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering from 2010-2014. With Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt she co-founded the Web Science Research Initiative in 2006 and she is currently a Director of the Web Science Trust, which has a global mission to support the development of research, education and thought leadership in Web Science.

Queen’s Lecture 2015 with Neil MacGregor

About the lecture: Symbols of a Nation

Neil MacGregor will speak about some of the ideas, images and objects that make up the UK in Germany’s collective imagination. Last year’s exhibition at the British Museum “Germany – Memories of a Nation” provided a new perspective on Germany’s national identity to the British audience.

Now, Neil MacGregor focuses on the other side of the British-German relationship. In the context of the State Visit of Her Majesty, he examines a range of topics - including plants, pets and politics - from the Houses of Parliament to the English Garden, which are part of the German idea of the United Kingdom. He will look at how this narration reflects and shapes our joint history as European nations.”

The Queen's Lectures were founded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a gift to the City of Berlin in 1965. For this special 50th anniversary year it is a great honor that Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the lecture. The guests of honor will be German Federal President Joachim Gauck and Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin.

Queen's Lecture 2016 by Dr Turi King

Richard III, the protagonist in Shakespeare's play of the same name, is the focus of 2016's Queen's Lecture that we were organising jointly with Technische Universität Berlin and the British Embassy Berlin. Dr Turi King, Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Leicester, provided overwhelming genetic evidence that the skeleton discovered under a car park in Leicester was indeed the body of King Richard III. Watch this video to find out more

Queen's Lecture 2017: Artificial intelligence and machine learning by Zoubin Ghahramani

Artificial intelligence and machine learning: from understanding computation in the brain to building self-driving cars 

What is intelligence? What is learning? Can we build computers and robots that learn? How much information does the brain store? How does mathematics help us answer these questions? Professor Ghahramani will take us on a journey exploring these questions and leading us to the field of machine learning: the invisible algorithms that underlie many of the tools we now use every day. He will highlight some current areas of research at the frontiers of machine learning, from automating data science to building self-driving cars, and speculate on some of the future applications of computers that learn.

Speaker Zoubin Ghahramani

Zoubin Ghahramani FRS is Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge and Chief Scientist at Uber. He is also Deputy Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, and a Fellow of St John's College. He was a founding Cambridge Director of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science. He has worked and studied at the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, the University of Toronto, the Gatsby Unit at University College London, and Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on probabilistic approaches to machine learning and artificial intelligence, and he has published over 250 research papers on these topics.  He was co-founder of Geometric Intelligence (now Uber AI Labs) and advises a number of AI and machine learning companies. In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his contributions to machine learning. Watch the Queen's Lecture here. 

Queen's Lecture 2018 by Prof. Susan Jebb

Susan Jebb is Professor of Diet and Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford. Her Queen's Lecture was on "Diet, obesity and health: from science to policy". Watch it here. 

Queen's Lecture 2019 by Prof. Corinne Le Quéré

The interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle and the future we choose

This year will be remembered as the year the world woke up to the climate crisis – and it’s about time!

Climate change is unfolding as predicted by scientists repeatedly and consistently over the past thirty years at least. We can now see the changes with our own eyes, and the impacts look a lot scarier in reality than on paper. But just how did we get here, and what comes next? Professor Corinne Le Quéré's lecture will present the scientific basis for climate change through the lenses of the natural carbon cycle. It will show how emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from human activities have caused the planet to warm, and have set in motion a train of changes in the natural carbon cycle.

Every year, the land and ocean natural carbon reservoirs, the so-called carbon ‘sinks’, absorb 55% on average of the CO2 emissions we put in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and other activities. The carbon sinks slow down the rate of climate change, but they respond themselves to a changing climate, by leaving more CO2 in the atmosphere. The latest evidence on trends in emissions and sinks of carbon of the past 60 years, reveals the limits of our understanding and the challenges we face to develop a planetary monitoring system that can keep track of the rapidly changing carbon cycle.

This Queen's Lecture will weave in the science of climate change and how it interacts with the carbon cycle, with the evolving relationship between scientists and society during the past decades. It will detail the growing momentum of global political leadership emerging to tackle climate change, the challenges that we face, and offer reflections on ways to bring about the future we choose. 

The lecturer: Corinne Le Quéré

Corinne Le Quéré is Royal Society Research Professor at the University of East Anglia. She conducts research on the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. Her research has showed that climate change and variability affects the capacity of the Earth's natural carbon reservoirs to take up carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by human activities.

Professor Le Quéré instigated and led for 13 years the annual update of the global carbon budget, an international effort to inform global climate agreements. She was author of three assessments reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel price prize in 2007, and is former Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Professor Le Quéré is Chair of France's High Council on climate, an independent experts body that advises the French Government on its responses to climate change, and member of the UK Committee on Climate Change. She was elected Fellow of the UK Royal Society in 2016 and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2019 for services to climate change science. 

Watch the Queen's Lecture 2019 here!

Queen's Lecture 2020 by Dr. Emily Shuckburgh – A blueprint for a green future

A blueprint for a green future

Today we sit at a pivotal moment in history. The toll that COVID-19 has wreaked on humanity is immense. But as we look to how the world can emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient, we must face head-on the triple challenge of responding to the threats posed by growing social inequality, the destruction of nature and climate change. 

The current status is bleak. In a global population approaching 8 billion, the world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion, and inequalities have been exacerbated by COVID-19. It is thought that one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction over the coming decades. And extreme weather related to climate change – including heatwaves, floods and wildfires – is destroying lives and livelihoods around the world.

But inequalities can be addressed to create a fairer and more just society; nature can be valued and supported so we leave it in an improved and resilient state for future generations; and the threat of climate change can be limited by rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and commitments to support adaptation. We can make this a story of hope and of opportunity. However, to realise these aspirations we need a coherent and effective plan based on our best evidence and knowledge. In this talk I will offer a blueprint for a green future. I will outline the economic case for an inclusive, green recovery from the pandemic and highlight the technological advances and nature-based solutions that can support a more sustainable and resilient future, together with the infrastructure and policies that can enable that. 

This is the moment to reset our priorities, to re-evaluate our relationships with each other and with the world that sustains us, and to imagine and then realise a future that is, simply, better.

The lecturer: Dr. Emily Shuckburgh

Dr Emily Shuckburgh is a mathematician and climate scientist. Emily is Director of Cambridge Zero, the University of Cambridge’s climate change initiative, and Reader in Environmental Data Science at the Department of Computer Science and Technology. She is also a Fellow of Darwin College, a Fellow of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy and a Fellow of the British Antarctic Survey.

She leads the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training on the Application of AI to the study of Environmental Risks (AI4ER). 
In the past she has worked at École Normale Supérieure in Paris and at MIT. She is a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and co-chair of their Climate Science Communications Group. She has also acted as an advisor to the UK Government on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council.

In 2016 she was awarded an OBE for services to science and the public communication of science. She is co-author with HRH The Prince of Wales and Tony Juniper of the Ladybird Book on Climate Change.

Watch the Queen's Lecture 2020 here.