Order of Merit, for Civil Merit, Cross
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This Order of Merit was established by King Edward VII in 1902. The Order is awarded at the sole discretion of the Sovereign, with no ministerial input. The Order is conferred upon citizens of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in recognition of the most outstanding achievements in the arts, science, or literature. Military personnel are also eligible for the award for military achievement. Membership is limited to 24. Foreigners may also be admitted outside of this statutory limit as "Honorary Members," although this practice is rare.
Members do not hold title or rank but are entitled to use the post-nominal letters OM. Each member also has their portrait painted and housed in the Royal Collection.
There are a number of different versions of the cross that differ in the reverse inscription according to the reigning monarch of the period. There is an additional type that is awarded with swords when conferred in recognition of military achievements.
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