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The Elizabeth Cross

The Elizabeth Cross was created in 2009 to provide national recognition for the families of Armed Forces Personnel who have died on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism.

In a broadcast to the armed forces made on 1 July 2009, Her Majesty The Queen announced the introduction of the Elizabeth Cross, saying, "This seems to me a right and proper way of showing our enduring debt to those who are killed while actively protecting what is most dear to us all".

Listen to the broadcast on YouTube (right) or read the full transcript:

This is the first time the name of a reigning monarch has been given to a new award since the George Cross was instituted in 1940 by The Queen’s father, King George VI, for acts of bravery by both civilians and the armed forces. Prior to this, the Victoria Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 for acts of gallantry by the Armed Forces.

Background

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll are granted to the next of kin of UK Armed Forces personnel who have died on medal-earning operations or as a result of an act of terrorism in national recognition of their loss and sacrifice.

The death of any Service person, whatever the circumstances, is a tragic loss to his or her family and to the Armed Forces as a whole, but the Elizabeth Cross was instituted specifically to recognise the unique challenges that service personnel face on operations and from terrorism, and the particular burden this places on Service families.

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll will not just be granted to families who have lost loved ones in the recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; The Queen's recognition will also be available to the families of those who died in conflicts dating back to 1948, including the Korean War, the Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland.

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll

The Elizabeth Cross is made of hallmarked silver and is in the form of a cross with a laurel wreath passing between the arms. The arms of the Cross bear floral symbols representing England (Rose) Scotland (Thistle), Ireland (Shamrock) and Wales (Daffodil). The centre of the cross bears the crowned Cypher of The Queen. The reverse of the cross, is engraved with the name of the Service person in whose memory it is granted.

The Elizabeth Cross, accompanied by a miniature version, is presented in a black leather style presentation box with the Royal Cypher on the lid and the Royal Coat of Arms on the inner silk lining.

The Memorial ScrollThe Memorial Scroll (right) is on parchment style paper, headed with the Royal Coat of Arms and the following words: “This Scroll Commemorates ... who gave his/her life for Queen and Country on ...” The scroll bears the signature of Her Majesty The Queen in the upper left corner.

Eligibility

Eligible personnel to be remembered in this way are those who were serving with, or were former members of the Regular and Reserve Armed Forces or the Royal Fleet Auxiliary when deployed in direct support of a designated operation.

The next of kin of eligible personnel whose deaths fall into the following categories are to be recognised:

  • those who died from whatever cause whilst serving on a medal earning operation. Medal earning operations are those in which deployed personnel received a Campaign Medal, GSM or OSM which demonstrated the risk and rigour involved. Operations where a UN, NATO or other international body or other nations’ campaign medal was accepted for wear, in the absence of a UK medal also qualify;
  • those who died as a result of an act of terrorism where the available evidence suggests that the service person, whether on or off duty, was targeted because of his or her membership of the UK Armed Forces;
  • those who died on a non medal earning operational task where death has been caused by the inherent high risk of the task;
  • those who died a subsequent and premature death as a result of an injury or illness attributed to the circumstances outlined above.

In addition to recognising future operational deaths in this way, deaths in the circumstances outlined above that occurred after 1 January 1948, or as a result of service in Palestine since 27 September 1945, will be recognised retrospectively. These dates reflect the fact that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission attributed deaths up to 1 January 1948 to Second World War service -— with the exception of Palestine.

Recipients and how to apply

Next of kin can apply for both the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll. For retrospective claims and when the next of kin is deceased, their legal successor may apply. Only one Elizabeth Cross is granted for each death recognised.

An additional Memorial Scroll only is available to the following (or their legal successors) where they are not the next of kin:

  • the parents of the deceased
  • the spouse/partner of the deceased or someone who had a substantive relationship with the deceased

Note, that as a Memorial Scroll was issued at the time to those who died in the Korean War, the Elizabeth Cross only (and not the new Memorial Scroll) will be issued in remembrance of those who died during that war.

Presentation of Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll

For new qualifying deaths after 1 August 2009, it is intended that, in most cases, the next of kin will be offered the opportunity for the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll to be presented privately and in an appropriate way at the time of the funeral if they so wish.

For retrospective cases, next of kin who are resident in the UK will be offered the choice of whether they wish to receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll at a formal presentation ceremony in the region where they live. Such presentations may be made by the Lord-Lieutenant or by a senior military representative. It is likely to be some months before these events are arranged as locations will very much depend on the number of recipients living in a particular region and we cannot establish this until applications are received. Further details will be sent to those who are to receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll.

If they prefer, families may choose to receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll by Recorded Delivery post. Next of kin living overseas will normally receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll in this way.

Please visit the Ministry of Defence website for more information about eligibility and how to apply for the award.

The Elizabeth Cross and miniature

The Elizabeth Cross (top) and (below) the cross and miniature in its presentation box.