The Order of Merit is a British Order. It was established in 1902 by King Edward VII as a reward for distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. The rarer military awards were distinguished from the civil by having a pair of crossed swords behind the central medallion.
The order is limited to the Sovereign and twenty-four members, but additional foreigners may be added as "honorary members." From the beginning the order was open to women; Florence Nightingale was the first woman to receive the order, in 1907. The order confers no knighthood or other status, but recipients of this single-class order are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "OM". The badge has the appearance of a red cross surmounted by a golden crown. The ribbon is red and blue.
Order of Merit medal of Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, displayed in the Royal Society, London
Last updated: 08-27-2005 22:04:41