The first Elizabeth Cross has been presented to the family of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Sean Upton at his funeral today.
WO2 Upton, from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed in an explosion while on a foot patrol in Sangin District, Helmand Province, on 27th July 2009.
The institution of the award of the Elizabeth Cross, to which Her Majesty The Queen has given Her name, was announced in Parliament on 1st July 2009 in national recognition of the loss and sacrifice suffered by the families of those who are killed on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism.
This is the first time the name of a reigning Monarch has been given to a new award since the George Cross was instituted in 1940 by King George VI for brave acts by both civilians and the military. Prior to this, the Victoria Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 for acts of gallantry by the Armed Forces.
The Elizabeth Cross – a sterling silver emblem, in the shape of a cross over a wreath – plus a Memorial Scroll signed by The Queen were presented to WO2 Upton’s wife, Karen Upton, before the funeral, which was held today at the Garrison Church at Catterick, Yorkshire. The presentation was made by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, The Lord Crathorne JP, and The Master Gunner St James’s Park, General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman GBE KCB ADC Gen.
Karen Upton, 32, said:
“It is an absolute honour to receive the very first Elizabeth Cross in Her Majesty’s name and comforting to feel the support of Queen and Country. Sean and I grew up together, were childhood sweethearts and soul mates. He was a loving husband and devoted father. Wherever our children, Ewan and Hollie, and I go, my husband will always be with us. Sean was an outstanding soldier, loved his job and was part of the Army ‘family’. I will wear this Elizabeth Cross in his honour with pride and treasure it always.”
Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said:
“We as a nation owe much to servicemen like WO2 Upton, who gave his life fighting for our security and freedom. But we all also owe a great debt to his family. The presentation of this first Elizabeth Cross in the name of Her Majesty The Queen is a lasting symbol of the entire nation’s gratitude and respect.”
Lieutenant Colonel John Musgrave, Commanding Officer 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, said of WO2 Upton:
“5th Regiment has lost a truly dedicated and exemplary soldier and man, who was a role model to all he met and worked with; always living and working to the highest standards, but also always with a smile on his face and a ready laugh, true to his belief that soldiering should be a rewarding way of life. He will be sorely missed.”
At the time of the announcement of the Elizabeth Cross, Her Majesty The Queen said:
“This seems to me a right and proper way of showing our enduring debt to those who are killed while actively protecting what is most dear to us all. The solemn dignity which we attach to the names of those who have fallen is deeply engrained in our national character. As a people, we accord this ultimate sacrifice the highest honour and respect.”
The Elizabeth Cross is available to the next of kin of those who have died on medal earning operations or as a result of terrorism since 1948, including the Korean War, the Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland.
The arms of the Elizabeth Cross bear floral symbols representing England (Rose), Scotland (Thistle), Northern Ireland (Shamrock) and Wales (Daffodil). The reverse of the Cross is engraved with the name of the person in whose memory it is granted.
The Elizabeth Cross is presented with a Memorial Scroll on parchment style paper, headed with the Royal Coat of Arms and the following words: “This Scroll Commemorates [name to be inserted] who gave his/her life for Queen and Country on [date to be inserted] ”. The Scroll bears the signature of Her Majesty The Queen in the upper left hand corner.
The Cross and Scroll were inspired by precedents from the first and second World Wars. A scroll and a memorial plaque were presented to the families of those killed in World War One. A scroll was given to the families of those who died in World War Two and in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Families of those Service Personnel who have died since 1948 are invited to read the information on the MOD Medal Office website which includes information on the eligibility criteria and details of how to apply. Information and an application form can also be obtained by calling the Medal Office on 0800 085 3600.