Some of the bravest of the brave who have won the UK’s highest awards for gallantry have been remembered at a special service.
There were 20 recipients of the Victoria Cross or the George Cross, along with widows and families of those who have posthumously received the honours, at the tribute at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Metropolitan Police Commissioner joined the service of remembrance and rededication where hymns were sung and prayers for world peace, the Queen, country and Commonwealth, were said.
Major Dominic Troulan, 55, was attending after he was awarded the George Cross in 2017 for repeatedly risking his life to save about 200 people during a deadly Kenyan terrorist attack.
The retired officer, who served for two decades in the special forces, returned a dozen times to the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi in 2013 to search for survivors and lead them to safety, after al-Shabab extremists stormed the centre armed with machine guns and grenades.
Mr Troulan described his debut appearance, including meeting the other attendees and chatting with Charles, as an “out of body experience, humbling and fascinating”.
He said: “Nobody talks about their actions but there is a camaraderie that I can see. They are great friends. I am very proud to be here and have been welcomed along with my family.”
Mr Troulan said the “humbling” thing for him was the many ordinary people who stepped in to help as the nightmare unfolded at the shopping mall.
He said: “This medal is not just about me, it is about lots of other people.”
The nation’s military and civilian heroes are remembered at the service, which is held every two years to reflect on sacrifices made in the service of others.
The Last Post and Reveille were also performed during the solemn event, which supports the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.
The elite group of invited guests included Johnson Beharry, who in 2005 became the first living recipient of the Victoria Cross since 1965.
The private, from 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, was awarded the honour for two separate acts of outstanding gallantry to rescue his comrades in Iraq in 2004. He suffered serious head injuries.
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces.
The George Cross (GC) is the highest civil decoration and is awarded to those who have displayed the greatest heroism or the most conspicuous courage whilst in extreme danger.
The Prince of Wales, who has been president of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association since 2003, later hosted a tea party at St James’s Palace for the veterans and their families.
They all posed for a group portrait which they will each receive as a keepsake.