Queen Elizabeth has created a new medal in her name, to be presented to families whose loved ones died in the course of duty. -Editor By deciding to give her name to an honour commemorating members of the Armed Forces who have died in the service of their country, the Queen is following a family tradition that dates back more than 150 years. Her great-great-grandmother gave her name to the Victoria Cross, her father his to the George Cross, each of them establishing a legacy that would live on long after their death.
They are not just any honours, however. The introduction of each of these awards, and the decision by Victoria, George VI and now Elizabeth to lend their names to them, reflects a series of fundamental shifts in society’s attitude to duty, sacrifice and the role in our national life played by both the Armed Forces and the civilian population.
Hard though it may be to imagine now, before the Victoria Cross there was no gallantry medal for anyone below the rank of major, or a captain in the Navy.
Officers of the appropriate rank were awarded the Companionship of the Order of the Bath: the rest got nothing.
Victoria recognised the valour of the other ranks, George VI the gallantry of civilians facing a war on the home front: now Elizabeth has chosen as her legacy the recognition of the sacrifice made by families whose loved ones have died in the course of duty. While the initiative came from the defence chiefs, the Queen played an active part in the discussions, and it was her suggestion that it be called the Elizabeth Cross.
That she should be so involved is entirely in character; not only is she the only living monarch to have served in uniform in the Second World War — she was in the ATS — but she has also had a long and close involvement with the Armed Forces.
From Cyprus to Northern Ireland, from the Falklands to Afghanistan and Iraq, conflicts both home and overseas have been, in the words of one aide, "at the forefront of her mind throughout her reign".
The Queen has, over the years, heard many moving stories of the deaths of servicemen and women, the aide said. "This is her legacy."
To read the complete article, see: Elizabeth Cross follows a tradition that started with Crimean War (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6620202.ece)
An article in The Telegraph notes that some families have mixed emotions about the honor and how it is delivered. -Editor The new medal, which will be issued from August, has been received with mixed feelings by Mrs Smith. On the one hand, she thinks it is "a lovely gesture", but she would have appreciated learning about it through the Ministry of Defence, rather than from her father.
The MoD says that by August it will trace all next of kin of those killed as far back as 2000; everyone else should apply. "But they have all my details now," says Mrs Smith, "so why haven't they been in touch? It seems pretty shambolic to me."
Tony Philippson, whose son James was killed when he was ambushed in Afghanistan in 2006, heard about the Elizabeth Cross through a text message from his son's Colonel. "I got the text about an hour ago," he said. "I don't really know anything about it. I don't suppose it really matters that they consult me, but it would be nice to to learn about it before it is in the newspaper."
To read the complete article, see: The Elizabeth Cross: Is it too little, too late? (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5724472/The-Elizabeth-Cross-Is-it-too-little-too-late.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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