The Albert Medal was instituted in 1866 and named after Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, who had died in 1861.
Until the institution of the George Cross in 1940 it was Britain's premier decoration for civilian acts of gallantry in saving life at sea and on land. It became known as 'the civilian's Victoria Cross', although awards were also made to servicemen in non-combatant situations.
There were two classes: the First Class in gold, and the Second Class in bronze. The medal was awarded only for the most exceptional bravery, and consequently was very sparingly given.
The medal was terminated in 1971.