This is the first time the name of a reigning monarch has been given to an award since the George Cross was created in 1940.
Dayna White, the designer of the cross, says she worked on it for around a year, to ‘quite a strict brief’ from the Ministry of Defence. She says the award had to feature a secular cross, a wreath and national symbols of the four countries of the UK.
A number of designs were produced during the process, some of which incorporated elements such as different colours or silver gilts, before the final six were put in front of the Queen for her to make the final choice.
White says, ‘As the project was so sensitive, for a long time we didn’t know what it was for. We found it that it was going to be for soldiers who died in operations, so we referred to it as the “died in operations medal”. We only discovered yesterday that it was going to be called the Elizabeth Cross.’
Speaking of the sensitivities of designing a cross for mourning families, White says, ‘It begins to build up on you. Initially it’s just another design brief, then, when you find out what it’s for, you think, “Oh my God, this is really important”.
‘You have to try to empathise with the people who will receive it and be respectful and sensitive.’