Order of Merit  

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The Order of Merit is a British and Commonwealth Order bestowed by the Monarch. It was established in 1902 by King Edward VII (based on the Prussian Pour le Mérite) as a reward for distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Appointments to the Order are in the Sovereign's personal gift and ministerial advice is not required. The Order of Merit ranks immediately below Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath; and although it confers no title, recipients are entitled to add the suffix O.M. after their surname.

The badge has the appearance of a red cross surmounted by a golden crown. The rarer military awards are distinguished from the civil by having a pair of crossed swords behind the central medallion. The ribbon is red and blue.

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, and Florence Nightingale was the first woman to receive the honour, in 1907.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Order of Merit" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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