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British Empire 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
Established 1922–1993
Last awarded 13 June 2015[1]
Next (higher) Royal Victorian Medal[2]
Next (lower) Queen's Police Medal[2]
Related Order of the British Empire
Ribbon - British Empire Medal (Civil).png Ribbon - British Empire Medal (Military).png
Ribbon bars of the Civil and 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.[2] 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,[3] although only in the civil division.[4]


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.[2]


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.[5] 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.[6]

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 the Cook Islands.[7]

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.[6] In the 2012 Birthday Honours, released on 16 June 2012, the BEM was awarded to 293 people.[8]

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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6050 news items

Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal
Sun, 17 Apr 2016 17:33:04 -0700

Born and raised in Edmonton, Nashman-Smith travels to London to receive, from Queen Elizabeth, the British Empire Medal on May 6. First created in 1922, the award recognizes meritorious civil service. Nashman-Smith can now refer to herself as a Member ...

Get Bucks

Get Bucks
Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:25:33 -0700

Lynne Pullinger, from Amersham, was presented with the British Empire Medal (BEM) recently by Buckinghamshire's Lord Lieutenant, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, at a special investiture attended by family and friends. Countess Elizabeth Howe, who read the ...

New Zealand Listener

New Zealand Listener
Sun, 01 May 2016 19:03:45 -0700

He was happy with the Order of the British Empire but less so with the associated British Empire Medal (BEM). I thought the PM and perhaps officials were using unreliable information so I wrote to him privately, observing the rules pertaining to public ...

The Courier

The Courier
Sat, 30 Apr 2016 04:27:19 -0700

In recognition of his actions, he was awarded the British Empire Medal. Jim suffers from Parkinson's disease which limits his mobility but he's keen to take part in outings organised by Erskine and considers it to be the best place for him to receive ...

Isle of Man Today

Isle of Man Today
Sat, 09 Jan 2016 23:04:36 -0800

A former midwife and dedicated charity worker has said she feels humbled to have been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen's New Year Honours List. Dorothea Lilian Gell, of Peel, has been given the honour for services to the Manx ...

GBC News

GBC News
Sat, 30 Apr 2016 02:40:21 -0700

Pepe Fabre was an MBE as well as a recipient of the British Empire Medal. He loved sport and dancing and was also known for his charity work. He was the co-founder of the Gibraltar Amateur Swimming Association as long ago as 1946 and was later ...

Northamptonshire Telegraph

Northamptonshire Telegraph
Wed, 30 Dec 2015 14:30:00 -0800

Earls Barton's Graham McInnes has told of his delight after he was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Year Honours list. The retired salesman, 75, was given the honour for his services to church music and the Wellingborough Talking ...

BBC News

BBC News
Wed, 30 Dec 2015 15:03:45 -0800

A Red Cross manager who led the organisation's on-site response to the Shoreham Airshow disaster has been awarded a British Empire Medal. Richard Tyler, 44, saw the Hawker Hunter jet go up in a loop and come down again as it crashed onto the A27 on ...

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