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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II honoured UK's state-run National Health Service (NHS) staff, past and present, with country’s highest civilian award --the George Cross-- in recognition of their services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Buckingham Palace announced it on its official Twitter handle.
The Royal Family tweeted Queen’s message which reads: "It is with great pleasure on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom.”
The GC has been given as a collective award on just two previous occasions:
In 1942, it was awarded to the island of Malta for the “heroism and devotion of its people” during the Siege of Malta in WWII.
The Cross was added to the Maltese flag in 1943 and remains there today.
And in 1999, the ‘George Cross’ was awarded to The Royal Ulster Constabulary, now the @PoliceServiceNI, for their action against terrorism and protection of Northern Irish communities during The Troubles.
The Queen presented the award at Hillsborough Castle in 2000.
The George Cross was instituted in 1940 by King George VI for “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger”.
It is the UK's highest award for non-military courage.
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