Royal Red Cross (Class 1)

Established on 27th April 1883 by Queen Victoria the Royal Red Cross is a military decoration awarded in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth for exceptional services in military nursing. A second and lower class, Associate, was added during World War I in 1917.

The Royal Red Cross award is made to a fully trained nurse of an officially recognised nursing service, military or civilian, who has shown exceptional devotion and competency in the performance of actual nursing duties, over a continuous and long period, or who has performed some very exceptional act of bravery and devotion at her post of duty. This decoration had the distinction of being conferred exclusively to females until 1976. It is conferred on members of the nursing services regardless of rank. Holders of the second class who receive a further award are promoted to the first class, although an initial award can also be made in the first class. Holders of the first class who receive a further award are awarded a bar.


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 – Dark blue ribbon with crimson edges

Royal Red Cross ribbon
Royal Red Cross ribbon

Suspender - Ring

Type – Military decoration

Eligibility – Members of the Military Nursing Service

Awarded for – Exceptional services in military nursing

Established – April 1883

Naming – The badge is issued unnamed

Post Nominals - Recipients of the Royal Red Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "RRC" or "ARRC" for Members and Associates respectively.

Bars / Clasps - Further exceptional devotion and competency in the performance of actual nursing duties or some very exceptional act of bravery and devotion at her post of duty, a bar may be awarded to a recipient of the RRC. The bar is linked to the cross and is made of red enamel.

Description – Gold (later silver-gilt) and silver cross, height 41mm; max width 35mm - The medal obverse is enamelled red, with a circular medallion (now bearing an effigy of the reigning monarch) at its centre. The words "FAITH", "HOPE" and "CHARITY" are inscribed on the upper limbs of the cross, with the year "1883" in the lower limb. The reverse is plain except a circular medallion bearing the Royal Cypher of the reigning monarch.

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



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