Professor Baroness Sue Black has been appointed by His Majesty The King to the highest honour in Scotland.

Professor Dame Sue Black

His Majesty The King has appointed Professor Baroness Black, President of St John's, to the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle represents the highest honour in Scotland. Revived by King James VII in 1687, the Order has a complement of sixteen Knights and Ladies.

About the Order of the Thistle

The King is the Sovereign of the Order, and appointments to the Order of the Thistle are entirely in the personal gift of the monarch (i.e. without Prime Ministerial advice).

In addition to the sixteen Knights and Ladies, The Queen, The Princess Royal and The Duke of Rothesay (the Scottish title of The Prince of Wales) are Royal Knights of the Thistle.

In 1987, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II decided that women should be eligible for the Thistle in the same way as men.

The Order’s primary emblem is the thistle, the national flower of Scotland. Its motto is Nemo me impune lacessit ('No one provokes me with impunity'). The same motto appears on the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom for use in Scotland and some pound coins, and is also the motto of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the Scots Guards, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada.

The new appointments are effective from 10 March and the installation ceremony is expected to take place over the summer.

About Professor Baroness Black of Strome

Professor Baroness Black of Strome, is an anatomist and forensic anthropologist whose research on human morphology and biometrics has had worldwide impact. Her research has been used to assist with international war-crime investigations and to identify those involved in mass-fatality events.

Professor Baroness Black of Strome has developed methods for hand-based person identification which have enabled national and international police forces to prosecute perpetrators of child sexual abuse. She has also been at the forefront of driving new initiatives in anatomy, raising the scientific standards of forensic anthropology, and pioneering educational primers for the judiciary. Professor Baroness Black also has an outstanding record in promoting public understanding of science through her books, All That Remains (2019) and Written in Bone (2020), and media work, including as the Royal Institution’s 2022 Christmas Lecturer.

Since 2022, Professor Baroness Black has been President of St John’s College. She is Honorary Professor of Anatomy in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford and also Visiting Professor, Cyber Security Research Centre (Health), Lancaster University. She was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) at Lancaster University and Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at Dundee University.

Professor Baroness Black is the lifetime Professor for Anatomy at the Royal Scottish Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Society of Biology. She was awarded an OBE in 2001 for her services to forensic anthropology following the war crimes investigations in Kosovo and a DBE in 2016 for her services to education and forensic anthropology. Born in Inverness, she is a Crossbench Peer (2021) who took the title of Baroness Black of Strome, the place where she spent her childhood.