After a difficult year fighting the pandemic and quickly adapting to new health protocols, Queen Elizabeth presented one of its highest honors to the UK’s National Health Service in honor of all the sacrifices its staff and families have made.
On Monday, the monarch announced that she had awarded a George Cross to the staff of the public health organization, both past and present. The honor also coincides with the 73rd anniversary of the NHS. The Queen issued a handwritten letter sent from Windsor Castle in honor of the momentous occasion, a copy of which was posted on the royal family’s official social media accounts. “It is a great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the UK National Health Services,” he writes. “This award recognizes all NHS personnel, past and present, in all disciplines and in all four nations. For more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, he has supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service. You have our lasting thanks and our sincerest thanks. “
This esteemed royal award was established during World War II as a means of recognizing “acts of the greatest heroism or of the greatest courage in circumstances of extreme danger”, performed by British civilians or military personnel while not in the presence of the enemy. It is awarded by the Queen on the advice of the George Cross committee and the Prime Minister. The George Cross can be awarded to both individuals and collectives and has previously been awarded to the island of Malta for the strength it displayed during WWII, as well as to the Royal Ulster Police, Northern Ireland’s police force. , for his courage in the face of “Trouble”: a long period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland ending in the late 1990s. The most recent individual to receive the honor is Dominic Troulan, a retired British Army officer and former Royal Marine, who received the George Cross in June 2017 for the courageous actions he took during the 2013 Westgate attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
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