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British Empire Medal
British Empire Medal (Mil. div.).jpg
British Empire Medal with military division ribbon
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
Established 1922-1993
Last awarded 1 January 2015[1]
Next (higher) Royal Victorian Medal[1]
Next (lower) Queen's Police Medal[1]
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 (formally British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service) is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.[1] The current honour was created in 1922 to replace the original medal which had been established in 1917 as part of the Order of the British Empire.


The British Empire Medal, which may be awarded posthumously, is granted in recognition of meritorious civil or military service. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "BEM".

The honour is divided into civil and military medals in a similar way to the Order of the British Empire itself. Like the ribbons used for other classes of the Order of the British Empire, the ribbon of the British Empire Medal is rose-pink with pearl-grey edges, with the addition of a pearl-grey central stripe for the military division. While recipients are not technically counted as members of the Order, these medals are nevertheless affiliated with it.

Between 1993 and 2012, the British Empire Medal was not awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom, although it continued to be awarded in some Commonwealth realms during that time. The practice of awarding the British Empire Medal to subjects of the United Kingdom was resumed in June 2012 to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee,[2] although only in the civil division.[3]


British Empire Medal on civilian division ladies' ribbon


The Medal of the Order of the British Empire was first established in 1917 along with the Order of the British Empire. The medal was part of the Order and could be awarded for either meritorious service or for gallantry. It was awarded to 2,015 people, 800 of whom were from foreign countries.[1]


In 1922 the original medal was discontinued and split into two separate honours, which still formed part of the Order of the British Empire. These two honours were known as the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (usually referred to as British Empire Medal, BEM) and the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry (usually referred to as Empire Gallantry Medal, EGM). Of these medals, the EGM was awarded for acts of bravery until it was replaced by the George Cross in 1940. The BEM 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 superintendent[citation needed] rank in the police, and personnel below divisional officer level in the fire services.[citation needed]


On 24 September 1940, the George Cross was established and the EGM was revoked by Royal Warrant the same day. All living recipients and the next-of-kin of recipients who had been posthumously awarded the EGM after 3 September 1939 (the start of World War II) were obliged to exchange it for the George Cross. Recipients of the BEM were not affected by these changes.

However, also starting in 1940, the statutes of the BEM were amended so that it could again be awarded for acts of gallantry, but now for such acts of bravery not in the face of the enemy which were below the level required for the George Medal. This was done so that the BEM for bravery would honour the same classes of people that were awarded the BEM for other services. More senior recipients would generally receive an appointment to the Order of the British Empire itself.

From 14 January 1958, awards of the BEM made for acts of bravery were formally designated the British Empire Medal for Gallantry and consisted of the BEM with a silver oak leaf emblem worn on the ribbon.[4] Unlike the GC and GM, the BEM for Gallantry could not be awarded posthumously and was eventually replaced in 1974 with the Queen's Gallantry Medal. Again, recipients of the BEM for services other than acts of bravery were not affected by these changes.


The BEM continued to be 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. After the 1993 review of the British honours system, the government decided that the distinction between the BEM and MBE had "become increasingly tenuous" and Prime Minister John Major expressed a view that he wanted more local people to receive their awards from the Queen herself.[5]

While awards of the BEM therefore ceased to be made to subjects of the United Kingdom, the medal continued to be awarded in the Commonwealth realms, such as the Bahamas and Cook Islands.[6]

From 2012[edit]

Following the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the BEM would once again be issued in the United Kingdom, although only in the civil division. This would start beginning in 2012, to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.[5] In the 2012 Birthday Honours, released on 16 June 2012, the BEM was awarded to 293 people.[7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Empire_Medal — Please support Wikipedia.
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25175 videos foundNext > 

British Empire Medal Ceremony April 2014

Three Edinburgh ladies were honoured with the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List. They received the medals from the Lord Lieutenant and Lord P...

Grounds Manager receives British Empire Medal

Friends, family and colleagues of Harper Adams University's Grounds Manager, Mark Hall, gathered at the university campus to witness Mark receiving his Briti...



Bert Elson Receives British Empire Medal from British Ambassador

Stuart Russell (22) Awarded British Empire Medal

14th April 2014 - Presented my B.E.M by the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, Margaret Dean. Awarded for my services to volunteering and the arts. I am one of (if not...



Deaf Direct newsletter - 21.11.2014 Deaf Direct Trustee receives British Empire Medal

Read the article at http://www.deafdirect.org.uk/deaf-direct-trustee-receives-british-empire-medal/

Church organist awarded British Empire Medal

Church organist Edward Kilpin been awarded a British Emprie Medal for his services to the community. He has played the organ at St Mary The Virgin Church in ...

British Empire Medal Ceremony 18/03/2014

This video shows the British Empire Medal Ceremony for Tony and Ruth for the Emma-Jayne Memorial Fund on the 18th March 2014.

Author Eileen Younghusband Receives British Empire Medal (BEM)

25175 videos foundNext > 

2526 news items

Oxford Student
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:24:57 -0800

Church falsely claimed various titles and honours, including an MBE, and was seen to wear military medals, including the British Empire Medal, the South Atlantic Medal, and the General Service Medal for service in Northern Ireland. In response to the ...

Harlow Star

Harlow Star
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:58:08 -0800

“I thought it was the right time to do a big challenge,” said Graham, who last year was awarded a British Empire Medal in recognition of his fundraising efforts. “There will be around 40 of us from all over the world but I will be the only man from the ...
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 07:11:15 -0800

Joan, from Ely, Cardiff, was awarded a British Empire Medal for charitable services to the neo-natal unit at University Hospital Wales and for voluntary service to Windsor Clive Primary School. Every Christmas she knits 28 toys so all the babies have ...


Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:56:15 -0800

Asher will receive the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth in London on Feb. 24. "I'm pleasantly surprised that I'm still working," he said. "I'm 70 years old. I should be retired and playing golf in ...

Pendle Today

Pendle Today
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 07:22:30 -0800

In 1987, Mrs Newsome was awarded the British Empire Medal for services in the community, one to add to a silver medal she received for her work in the Voluntary Service. Mrs Newsome was also presented with a gold badge for her work with the RNLI in ...

Derby Telegraph

Derby Telegraph
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 07:12:16 -0800

A DERBY businesswoman has said being awarded a royal honour for her work in the healthcare sector was "the biggest shock of her life". Liz Fothergill has been to Buckingham Palace to collect her CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) medal ...

Grimsby Telegraph

Grimsby Telegraph
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 01:08:28 -0800

PROUD DAY: Local volunteer Betty Marsh was presented with her British Empire Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire at Humberston Park School. From left, the Lord Lt Tony Worth, Betty Marsh and her husband Brian Marsh. Picture: Abby Ruston.

Oxford Mail

Oxford Mail
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 00:49:36 -0800

Anthony Church yesterday apologised for the “grave error of judgement” after his use of the medals – including the British Empire Medal, the South Atlantic Medal and General Service Medal with Northern Ireland clasp – was exposed by a group calling ...

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