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British Commonwealth Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards - The Royal Red Cross - Member and Associate

The Royal Red Cross (1st Class or Member)

The Royal Red Cross (1st Class or Member) obverse view

The Royal Red Cross (2nd Class or Associate)

The Royal Red Cross (2nd Class or Associate) obverse view

About this award

This award, instituted in 1883, has two classes. Recipients of the first class are known as ‘Members' (RRC), and recipients of the second class as ‘Associates' (ARRC). It is conferred on members of the nursing services regardless of rank. The second class was introduced in November 1915. Bars for the first class were introduced in 1917. Holders of the second class are promoted to the first class on receipt of a second award. Until 1976 the award of either class of the Royal Red Cross was restricted to women.

The first class award was originally a gold cross pattée, enamelled red with gold edges, but from 1889 silver-gilt was substituted for gold. The height is 41 mm, with a maximum width of 35 mm. Originally, the centre of the obverse displayed a crowned and veiled portrait, with the words FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY inscribed on three arms, and the date 1883 on the lower arm. Subsequently the effigy of the reigning monarch was substituted for the allegorical profile. The reverse is a crowned royal cypher.

The second class award is silver, and has the same design as the first class, except that the inscriptions on the arms appear on the reverse.

Awards from 1938 have the year of issue engraved on the reverse of the lower arm.

About the ribbon

The ribbon is dark blue edged with crimson, 25mm in width and shaped into a bow.

Royal Warrant

Many British awards have a considerable history and the Royal Warrants which instituted them have been subject to significant amendment during their currency. More information on the Royal Warrants and criteria for the British Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards can be found in the publications listed in the Bibliography. A publication titled ‘British Gallantry Awards’ by P.E. Abbott and J.M.E. Tamplin is particularly recommended.


Most Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards do not have separate Regulations. Instructions for their administration are usually included in the Royal Warrant.

Clasps and Bars

Bars are awarded in both classes. An Associate (2nd Class) receiving a Bar is automatically promoted to Member (1st Class).

Order of Wear

The position of the ‘Member' (RRC) and 'Associate' (ARRC) awards in the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table can be viewed here.