Polar Medal

Polar Medal
Polar medal top.jpg

Polar Medal (UK) ribbon.png
Reverse of medal and ribbon
Awarded by United Kingdom
Awarded forextreme human endeavour against the appalling weather and conditions that exist in the Arctic and Antarctic
Order of Wear
Next (higher)Campaign Medals and Stars[1]
Next (lower)Imperial Service Medal[1]

The Polar Medal is a medal awarded by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. It was instituted in 1857 as the Arctic Medal and renamed the Polar Medal in 1904.


The first polar award was called the Arctic Medal which was presented twice in the 19th century. The Admiralty issued the medal in 1857 for several expeditions, including the expedition to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew who were lost while looking for the Northwest Passage in 1847:

Her Majesty having been graciously pleased to signify her commands that a Medal be granted to all persons, of every rank and class, who have been engaged in the several Expeditions to the Arctic Regions, whether of discovery or search, between the years 1818 and 1855, both inclusive.[2]

The second presentation of the Arctic Medal was to the crews of three ships exploring the Arctic in 1875–76.

In 1904, the Polar Medal was inaugurated for members of Captain Scott's first expedition to Antarctica. It was also awarded to the crews of both rescue ships, Terra Nova and Morning. Subsequent medals were also awarded to members of Ernest Shackleton's expeditions in 1907–09 and 1914–17.

Until 1968, the Polar Medal was presented to anyone who participated in a polar expedition endorsed by the governments of any Commonwealth realms. However since then the rules governing its presentation have been revised with greater emphasis placed on personal achievement.

The Medal may be conferred on those citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who have personally made conspicuous contributions to the knowledge of Polar regions or who have rendered prolonged service of outstanding quality in support of acquisition of such knowledge and who, in either case, have undergone the hazards and rigours imposed by the Polar environment. The Medal may also be awarded in recognition of individual service of outstanding quality in support of the objectives of Polar expeditions, due account being taken of the difficulties overcome.

A total of 880 silver and 245 bronze medals have been issued for Antarctic expeditions. Another 73 silver medals have been issued for service in the Arctic. In 2016 the medal was awarded to Kim Crosbie for her work in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.[3] Also in 2016, Agnieszka Fryckowska was awarded a Polar Medal at Buckingham Palace.[4]

Several people have been awarded clasps to the medal for earning the award again for polar expeditions. Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce hold the joint record of four clasps on their Polar Medal.[5]

Other Languages
català: Medalla polar
español: Medalla Polar
Esperanto: Polusa medalo
italiano: Polar Medal
magyar: Polar Medal
Nederlands: Polar Medal
日本語: 極地メダル
português: Medalha Polar