The Queen has today hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for the Victoria Cross and the George Cross Association.
The association, which gathers biennially for a reunion in London, is formed of living holders of the two highest awards in the British honours system – the Victoria Cross (VC) and the George Cross (GC).
Her Majesty is patron of the Association, which was formed on the occasion of the centenary celebrations for the Victoria Cross on 26th June 1956.
Joining The Queen at today’s reception were The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of York, Princess Eugenie, The Duke of Kent, Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra who met the 24 Association members, together with widows of past members and parents and families of the fallen.
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Queen Victoria on 29th January 1856 and made retrospective to 1854 to include actions in the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross is awarded “for most conspicuous bravery or some daring pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy”. The award is bestowed irrespective of rank to those serving in British and Commonwealth Forces who have shown most conspicuous bravery.
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Queen Victoria in 29 January 1856.
It is awarded “for most conspicuous bravery or some daring pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy”. pic.twitter.com/uPFgrweGTE
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 16, 2018
The George Cross was instituted by King George VI on 24th September 1940, during the height of the Blitz. The George Cross, which may be awarded posthumously, is granted in recognition of “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger”. The medal is primarily a civilian award; however the George Cross may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct which is not in the face of the enemy.
The Victoria Cross is the highest British award for gallantry in the presence of an enemy. This photo shows Major Tasker Watkins receiving the Victoria Cross from King George VI in 1945. Watkins single-handedly disarmied a German machine gun-post in 1944. https://t.co/KdTbpAwLAP pic.twitter.com/BRMzNVOEbs
— RoyalCollectionTrust (@RCT) May 16, 2018
Yesterday, The Prince of Wales, who is the Association’s President, and The Duchess of Cornwall attended a Service in support of the Association, before hosting a tea party at St James’s Palace.
A new member has been welcomed into The VC and GC Association since the last reunion. Dominic Troulan, a retired British Army officer and former Royal Marine, was awarded the George Cross in The 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his actions during the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Queen was also presented with the association’s new book ‘On Courage: Stories of Victoria Cross Holders’ which will raise money for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.
At the beginning of their married life, The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and Prince Philip lived on the island of Malta where he was stationed during naval service. A few years earlier, in 1942, King George VI awarded the island the George Cross for the heroism and devotion of its people during the siege they underwent from Italy and Germany from 1940 to 1942. The George Cross was incorporated into the Flag of Malta in 1943 and remains on the design of the flag today.
Interestingly, the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum in London houses the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses, alongside a significant collection of George Crosses.