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The Order of Merit was created by Edward VII in 1902. It is 'given to such persons ... as may have rendered exceptionally meritorious service in Our Crown Services or towards the advancement of the Arts, Learning, Literature, and Science or such other exceptional service as We are fit to recognise,' and, as with the Order of the Garter it is the current Monarchs decision as to who recieves this award.

The Orders membership is restricted to 24, with an exclusive few extra members under the guise of foreign recipients (such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa). Past British recipients include Florence Nightingale, Sir Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill.There was also a military division to the Order, but at present there are no members (the last being Lord Mountbatten)

Recipients of the Order use the suffix OM after their names, and are presented with a red and blue enamel medal with the British Crown in the centre (military versions also have crossed swords throught the centre), around the edge of the badge in gold is the Orders motto - For Merit

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