Queen Elizabeth II has awarded a George Cross medal to the National Health Service. It is one of the highest honours that can be awarded to British civilians, for “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.”
On 5 July, the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the NHS after World War II, the Queen and her family renewed thanks to the medical staff who have worked so hard throughout the COVID pandemic, putting their own health at risk. She accompanied the award with a handwritten note.
The George Cross was created by the Queen's father George VI, during WWII, when the Blitz bombing of Britain meant that civilians were facing the violence of war in a way they had not had to in previous wars. It is only the third in over 400 George Crosses to be awarded to a collective rather than an individual. It was awarded to the Mediterranean island of Malta in 1942, in the face of severe bombing, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1999 for their service during the Troubles.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge hosted a garden party on 5 July at Buckingham Palace to further thank NHS staff.
This short video gives information about the George Cross award in text form.