British Empire Medal

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British Empire Medal
British Empire Medal (Mil. div.).jpg
Military division medal
Awarded by Elizabeth II
Country United Kingdom
Type Medal affiliated with an order
Awarded for Meritorious service
Status Currently awarded
Motto For God and the Empire
Post-nominals BEM
Statistics
Established 1922-1993
2012-present
Last awarded 16 June 20121
Precedence
Next (higher) Royal Victorian Medal1
Next (lower) Queen's Police Medal1
Related Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire (Civil) Ribbon.png
Ribbon for the Civil BEM
Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png
Ribbon for the Military BEM

The British Empire Medal (BEM) is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.1 It was established in 1922 to replace the Medal of the Order of the British Empire. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "BEM" and it is divided into civil and military medals in a similar way to the Order of the British Empire itself. While recipients are not technically counted as members of the Order, these medals are nevertheless affiliated with it. The BEM was awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom until 1993, after which time it lay in abeyance in the United Kingdom, although was still awarded in some Commonwealth realms. It was brought out of abeyance in June 2012, for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.2

History

Medal on ladies ribbon

Medal of the Order of the British Empire

The Medal of the Order of the British Empire was first established in 1917 together with the Order of the British Empire itself. It was awarded to 2,015 people, 800 of whom were from foreign countries.1

Transition

In 1922 the original medal was split into two new honours. While the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry (usually known as the Empire Gallantry Medal) was awarded for acts of bravery until it was replaced by the George Cross in 1940, the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (usually known as the British Empire Medal) was awarded in similar circumstances as the lower classes of the Order of the British Empire, but usually to people below management or professional level. In the uniformed services, it was awarded to non-commissioned officers of the armed forces, officers below superintendentcitation needed rank in the police, and personnel below divisional officer level in the fire services.citation needed

British Empire Medal

From 1940, the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service could again be awarded for gallantry, but now for acts of bravery (not in the face of the enemy) which were below the level required for the George Medal and to the same classes of people awarded the BEM for other services (with more senior recipients receiving the Order of the British Empire). From 14 January 1958 these awards were instead designated as the British Empire Medal for Gallantry and consisted of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service with a silver oak leaf emblem worn on the ribbon.3 It could not be awarded posthumously and was eventually replaced in 1974 with the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

The BEM was awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom until 1992. Those awarded the honour did not receive it from the monarch but from the Lord Lieutenant of their county or a local authority. Then prime minister, Sir John Major decided that the distinction between the BEM and MBE had "become increasingly tenuous" and he wanted more local people to receive their awards from the Queen herself.4 The medal continued to be awarded in the Commonwealth realms, such as the Bahamas and Cook Islands.5

Following the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the medal would once again be issued in the United Kingdom, beginning in 2012, to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.4 On 16 June 2012 the honour was awarded to 293 people.6

See also

References

External links