This award was launched in 2009. It is granted to the next of kin of Armed Forces personnel killed on operations or as a result of terrorism as a mark of national recognition for their loss.
Named the Elizabeth Cross, this is the first time since the George Cross was instituted in 1940 by King George VI that the name of a reigning monarch has been given to a new award. Prior to this, the Victoria Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 for acts of gallantry by the Armed Forces.
The award will be available to the families of those who died in conflicts dating back to 1948, including the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland as well as recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The award was inspired by precedents from the First and Second World Wars. A scroll and memorial plaque were presented to the families of those killed in World War One. A scroll was given to the families of those who died in World War Two and in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Those receiving this honour receive two pinned sterling silver emblems, one full size for formal remembrance events and a miniature version for less formal events. The reverse of the cross will be engraved with the name of the person in whose memory it is granted. The emblems will be accompanied by a memorial scroll.
In a message to Her Armed Forces, Her Majesty The Queen said:
"This seems to me a right and proper way of showing our enduring debt to those who are killed while actively protecting what is most dear to us all. The solemn dignity which we attach to the names of those who have fallen is deeply engrained in our national character. As a people, we accord this ultimate sacrifice the highest honour and respect."
"I greatly hope that the Elizabeth Cross will give further meaning to the nation's debt of gratitude to the families and loved ones of those who have died in the service of our country. We will remember them all."