Soldier's widow given first Elizabeth Cross

The first Elizabeth Cross was presented today to the widow of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan, on the same day as the three latest victims of the conflict were named and a suicide bomber killed 10 people near the country’s capital, Kabul.

Karen Upton, 32, received the newly created medal in advance of the funeral of her husband, Warrant Officer Sean Upton, 35, at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

It is the first time the name of a reigning monarch has been given to a new award since the George Cross was unveiled in 1940. It will go to the next of kin of armed forces personnel killed in action or as a result of terrorism.

Mrs Upton said: “It is an absolute honour to receive the very first Elizabeth Cross in Her Majesty’s name, and comforting to feel the support of Queen and country. I will wear this Elizabeth Cross in his honour with pride and treasure it always.”

The cross will also be available to the families of those who died in conflicts dating back to 1948.

WO Upton, originally from Nottingham, died in an explosion as he was on patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province last month.

The presentation was held on the same day as the three latest victims of the war in Afghanistan were named.

Fusiliers Simon Annis, 22, and Louis Carter, 18, were part of the team trying to carry the mortally wounded Lance Corporal James Fullarton, 24, to safety near Sangin on Sunday when an ex

plosion killed all three men.

Their deaths bring the total number of British troops killed in Afghanistan since the conflict began to 204.

Also yesterday, 10 people were killed and dozens more injured after a suicide bomber targeted a convoy near a military base outside Kabul.

One International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (Isaf) soldier, two UN employees and seven Afghan civilians were reported to have died in the explosion, which came two days before the country’s national elections.