The Victoria Cross

Created on 29 January 1856 to recognise acts of extreme bravery carried out under direct enemy fire, the Victoria Cross (VC) was the first medal for bravery that could be earned by anyone in the Army or the Navy. Since its creation, over 1300 people have been awarded the VC.

The design is a cross pattée showing a lion guarding the Royal Crown - this emphasises the personal link that has always existed between the monarch and recipients of the VC.

Deliberately intended to have little actual value, the VC is hand-made, traditionally using bronze taken from a gun captured in the Crimean War. Its value lies in what it stands for and what people do to earn it. The inscription on the Victoria Cross is "For Valour", a traditional word for bravery. This was personally chosen by Queen Victoria, after whom the medal was named.

Medals

A Victoria Cross or George Cross act must be seen by several witnesses

The George Cross

Created on 24 September 1940, the George Cross (GC) recognises acts of extreme bravery carried out in peacetime when facing the perils of ordinary life, and in wartime away from the heat of battle. Since its creation, more than 400 people have been awarded the GC.

Many details on the George Cross were personally designed by King George VI, after whom the medal was named. The inscription reads "For Gallantry", a traditional word for bravery, and these words surround an image of St George slaying the dragon.

The medal itself is made from solid silver by the Royal Mint and as with the VC, the GC allows the King or Queen to show their personal admiration for an individual's act of extreme bravery.