The Order of Merit was instituted by King Edward VII in 1902, on the occasion of his coronation. This award is conferred by the Sovereign in exercise of the Royal Prerogative to persons who have rendered exceptionally meritorious service to the Crown, in armed services or towards the advancement of arts, literature and science, or to persons upon whom the Sovereign sees fit to confer the honour.
Membership in the Order consists of the Sovereign and not more than 24 living members. Members of the Order of Merit have the right to use the postnominals “OM”. However, the Order carries no title or rank. It is awarded to citizens of countries of which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is The Queen. However, it may also be awarded to an unlimited number of honorary members, but is rarely awarded to citizens of countries of which The Queen is not head of State.
Only four Canadians have been appointed to the Order of Merit: the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King (1947); Colonel Dr. Wilder Penfield (1953); and the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson (1971). Recently, on October 20, 2009, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien was presented with the Order of Merit.
For more information on the Order, please visit the official website of the British Monarchy.
Description of the insignia
The insignia is an eight-pointed cross of red and blue enamel surmounted by the imperial crown; in the centre, upon blue enamel and surrounded by a laurel wreath, are the words 'For Merit', in gold lettering.
The insignia for the military division (when used) is differentiated by crossed swords placed between the angles of the cross of the badge. The Order shall be worn following the Cross of Valour (C.V.), in the order of precedence of the Canadian Honours System.