Albert Medal

Established by Royal Warrant on 7th March 1866, the Albert Medal for Lifesaving was an awarded in recognition for the saving of a life.  The medal was named in memory of Prince Albert by Queen Victoria for distinguishing the “many heroic acts performed by marines and others who endanger their own lives in saving, or endeavouring to save, the lives of others from shipwrecks and other perils of the sea”

A further Royal Warrant in 1867 created two classes of Albert Medal, the first in gold and bronze and the second in bronze, both enamelled in blue. 

In 1877, the medal was extended to cover saving life on land and from this point there are two medals with different inscriptions to depict which they were awarded for. The land version was enamelled in red, with a red ribbon, whereas the sea version was enamelled in blue with a blue ribbon.

In 1905 the rules for the award of the medals were amended, and it was ordained that the grant of decorations of the 1st Class should be “confined to cases of extreme or heroic daring,” and those of the 2nd Class should be given “in cases which, though falling within the cases contemplated by this warrant, are not sufficiently distinguished to deserve the Albert Medal of the 1st Class.”

Titles of the medals changed during 1917, the gold "Albert Medal, first class" becoming the "Albert Medal in gold" and the bronze “Albert Medal, second class” known as just the “Albert Medal”.

The Albert Medal has since been replaced, in 1949, by the George Cross, and the second class of Albert Medal (in bronze) was only awarded posthumously.

Awards of the Albert medal were announced in the London Gazette. All awards listed were for the second class medal unless otherwise mentioned. The medal was terminated in 1971.

Materials:   The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non-combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:    Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.

Ribbon – The original medal had a blue ribbon ?16mm wide with two white stripes. A further Royal Warrant in 1867 created two classes of Albert Medal, and the ribbon of the first-class changed to 35mm wide with four white stripes.

Albert Medal 1st Class (Land)
Albert Medal 1st Class (Land) Ribbon
Albert Medal 1st Class (Sea)
Albert Medal 1st Class (Sea) Ribbon
Albert Medal 2nd Class (Land) Ribbon
Albert Medal 2nd Class (Sea)
Albert Medal 2nd Class (Sea) Ribbon


Suspender - Surmounted by a crown pierced by a ring for suspension

Type – Civil decoration

Eligibility – United Kingdom and British Empire/Commonwealth personnel

Awarded for – Saving a life

Established – 1866

Post Nominals - His Majesty King George V. approved of recipients of the Albert Medals using the letters “A .M.” after their names.

Bars / Clasps - Any subsequent act of gallantry which is considered worthy of recognition by the award of the Albert Medal may be recorded by a bar.

Description – The decoration consists of an oval enclosing, the entwined initial V and A. The Sea medals have, in addition an anchor. The oval in enclosed by a bronze garter with the words “FOR GALLANTRY IN SAVING LIFE, with AT SEA or ON LAND as appropriate, and enamelled in crimson or blue respectively. The medal is surmounted by a crown pierced by a ring for suspension.

This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals




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