British historian and academic Mary Beard has won this year’s Princess of Asturias award, one of Spain’s top honours, in the field of Social Sciences for her “outstanding contribution to the study of the culture, politics and society of classical antiquity”.
Beard is a professor of Classics at Cambridge University and Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, as well as appearing regularly on British television and radio.
She follows in the footsteps of fellow Brit David Attenborough, who won the award for Social Sciences in 2007.
“I am absolutely delighted and honoured. In fact I feel very humble when I look at all the great names of past winners,” Beard told The Local on Wednesday.
“I am especially pleased to win a European prize at this moment of my country’s history,” added the academic, who has been outspoken in the row against Brexit.
Beard confirmed to The Local that she would definitely be coming to Spain for the October ceremony to collect the prize in person.
The Princess of Asturias jury, chaired by the historian Carmen Iglesias called Beard “one of the most influential European intellectual figures of today” who has “a wide recognition both in academia and society at large”.
The prize recognizes the award-winner’s ability to “integrate the legacy of the classical world into our experience of the present.”
Beard tweeted her delight at receiving the award in Spanish after the annoucement:
Encantadisima de haber recibido el premio Princesa de Asturias. Un gran honor y gozo!
— mary beard (@wmarybeard) May 25, 2016
“Delighted to have received the Princess of Asturias prize. A great honour and pleasure!”
The Princess of Asturias awards are a series of annual accolades given out by the Princess of Asturias Foundation to individuals or organizations who have made notable achievements in the sciences, humanities and public affairs.
The Princess of Asturias is the title of the current heir to the Spanish throne – King Felipe's eldest daughter, Leonor, aged ten.