His Majesty the King’s Medal
In 1916, the King’s Gold Medal award for Naval Cadets was established at the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay. At that time, His Majesty King George V was the reigning British monarch.
The medal was awarded each year to the cadet midshipman who displayed ‘gentlemanly bearing, character, good influence among his fellows and officer-like qualities’. The first cadet to receive the honour was Winn Lockyer Reilly in 1916.
Each recipient of the award had their name enrolled on a board displayed in the gymnasium at Jervis Bay. Later, when the college relocated to Flinders Naval Depot, it was displayed in the cadets’ gunroom. As a further mark of prestige, the letters ‘KM’ appeared following a recipients name in the Navy List.
Produced by the Royal Mint in the United Kingdom, the medal depicted King George V surrounded by a legend in Latin. The legend read: GEORGIVS V D.G. BRITT OMN REX F.D. IND IMP meaning ‘George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britons, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India’.
The reverse of the medal showed a sprig of wattle and oak leaves with the central shield of the Australian coat of arms. ‘His Majesty the King’s Medal’ appeared in raised lettering in an arch at the top of the medal. The inscription ‘Royal Australian Naval College’ was added to the face of the reverse.
After the death of King George V in 1936, the medal was altered to reflect the bust and legend of King George VI.
Her Majesty the Queen’s Medal
Following the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952, the award was retitled the Queen’s Gold Medal. Both sides of the medal were altered to reflect the change.
An effigy of Queen Elizabeth II wearing a wreath was adopted along with the legend: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FD, meaning ‘Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith’.
The provisions of the award have changed over the years. Today the medal is presented to the officer who has shown exemplary conduct, performance of duty and a high level of achievement during initial training and application courses.