Before his appointment to lead the Discovery Expedition, Scott had followed the conventional career of a naval officer in the Royal Navy. In 1899, he had a chance encounter with Sir Clements Markham, the president of the Royal Geographical Society, thus learning of a planned Antarctic expedition, and soon volunteered to lead this expedition. Having taken this step, his name became inseparably associated with the Antarctic, the field of work to which he remained committed during the final twelve years of his life. Following the news of his death, Scott became a celebrated hero, a status reflected by the many permanent memorials erected across the nation. In the closing decades of the 20th century, Scott became a figure of controversy, with questions raised about his competence and character. Commentators in the 21st century have on the whole regarded Scott more positively, noting errors made by his team members, but attributing the expedition's fate primarily to misfortune.