Elizabeth Cross and The Deadman’s Penny

The Elizabeth Cross

The Elizabeth Cross

I recently witnessed the award of The Elizabeth Cross to parents who had lost their son in Afghanistan; The Elizabeth Cross is an award given to the next of kin of members of the British Armed Forces killed in action, or as a result of a terrorist attack, after the Second World War.

The award was instituted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 1 July 2009, but eligibility is retrospective to deaths from the end of the Second World War. The creation of the award was announced in a written statement by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Bob Ainsworth after the idea for a new award was first approved a year earlier.

The Elizabeth Cross is made of hallmarked silver carrying the rose of England, the Scottish thistle, the Irish Shamrock, plus the Welsh daffodil. In the centre is the crowned cypher of Queen Elizabeth II and the cross is backed by a laurel wreath.

The first presentations of the Elizabeth Cross to be made personally by Queen Elizabeth II took place on 12 September 2009, just a few weeks after she instituted the award.

During the ceremony, I heard a comment that implied it has a ‘new and unique award’ for the family of a serviceman that paid the ultimate price, but as anyone who has joined my on a World War One, Battlefield tour will know that is not the case. A similar award has given to the families of World War One serviceman following the war called the Memorial Plaque, or more commonly known as The Dead Man’s Penny.