Don’t Dumb Down Our Medals

The British system of awarding medals to members of the Armed Forces has always been shrouded in secrecy, but is broadly divided into two categories. The first includes those which are earned for overseas duty in danger zones and the second includes the so-called tokens that “come up with the rations” for non-operational work. Our system is very different from the American arrangement where the low qualification threshold devalues the many ribbons worn by US personnel.

The four Queen’s Jubilee medals fall into this latter category. They are obviously worn with great pride by anyone lucky enough to have received them, but they are in no way comparable to the hard-earned awards for front-line service in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, or Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the current discussion about Coronation medals has become mired in the cost of the metal, but this misses the most important point, which is that a British medal should be something that is rare and treasured, not handed out like a Boy Scout badge. The armed forces were not recognised formally for their much-needed help during the 2012 Olympics, nor their outstanding assistance during the pandemic, so on that basis they should not receive gongs for security duties during the Coronation. Please do not dumb down our historic British awards by handing coronation medals to all and sundry.

General Service Medal 2008 with North Africa clasp


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