News story

Review of military medals

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a review into military medals in a written ministerial statement.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a review into military medals via a written ministerial statement and terms of reference. These have been laid in the House of Commons. The review will be conducted by Sir John Holmes, who will report back by the summer.

The coalition stated its intention in its programme for government to review the rules governing the award of medals as a part of its commitment to rebuilding the Military Covenant.

Prime Minister’s Military Medals Review Written Ministerial Statement

This government is fully committed to recognising all that our Armed Forces do to keep us safe. That’s why this government has enshrined the Military Covenant in law.

Today, I am pleased to update the House on the fresh review of the rules governing the award of military campaign medals that Lord Astor announced in the House last October. 

I have appointed Sir John Holmes to carry out this review of the rules and principles governing the award of military campaign medals to ensure that it is fully independent. Sir John is currently Director at The Ditchley Foundation, and formerly served as the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and as Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Paris and Lisbon.

The review will consider the current medallic recognition situation and examine the guiding principles and current processes. It will make recommendations where appropriate for any change. I have asked Sir John Holmes to report on his review by the summer.

 Sir John Holmes said:

I am honoured to have been asked to take on this review and look forward to talking to all interested parties on what are sensitive and important issues.

Terms of reference

The review will:

Consider the current medallic situation and examine the rationale for existing guiding principles, including the 5 year rule; double medalling; risk and rigour and the HD Committee process.  The review will examine the background to the current arrangements, the pros and cons of them and make recommendations where appropriate for any changes; and

Make recommendations on how retrospective claims for medals for earlier campaign service should be assessed in light of the guiding principles recommended by the Review.


The review should consult widely and those consulted should include: CDS and the Chiefs of Staff; Buckingham Palace; personnel from all three Services (from a range of ranks); representatives from veterans groups who have campaigned for further recognition; representatives from veterans organisations such as the Royal British Legion, officials involved in medal policy matters in the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office.


The review will consider the arrangements relating to military medals only and is not to review state honours and awards (including national gallantry awards) or Long Service and Good Conduct Medals.

The review should draw on, but not necessarily be guided by, the work already undertaken as a part of the initial Ministry of Defence medal review.  This should include consideration of the responses to that review by the veterans groups consulted.  

Any changes recommended should consider the cost to the taxpayer of any such changes.

Published 30 April 2012
Last updated 27 October 2014 + show all updates
  1. Added links to the written statement and guidance.

  2. First published.