A retired special forces officer awarded the George Cross has spoken of the “family” bond among fellow recipients and Victoria Cross holders as the Queen hosted a reception in their honour.
In Buckingham Palace’s picture gallery, 24 VC and GC holders met the head of state for a lunchtime reception and also posed with the Queen for a group photo.
Among those invited were Johnson Beharry – who received the Victoria Cross for two separate lifesaving acts during a tour of Iraq – and former police officer Jim Beaton, awarded the George Cross for helping to foil a gunman’s kidnap attack on the then Princess Anne in 1974, and shot three times protecting the Queen’s daughter.
Dominic Troulan, a former major, who repeatedly risked his life to save around 200 people during a deadly Kenyan terrorist attack in 2013, was awarded the GC by the Queen last year.
He was the first UK civilian to receive the George Cross in more than 40 years, with a number of recipients from Commonwealth countries receiving the award in the intervening years.
Speaking after meeting the Queen, he said: “The one denominator among everyone else is the humility and how it’s a family – which I’ve just realised as it’s my first time.
“It’s definitely a family of people, of all age groups, all different military and civilian arms and different actions to get what’s been bestowed upon them, I find that quite humbling – it’s great to see all these guys.”
The Queen was presented with the book On Courage, signed by many VC and GC recipients, which chronicles their heroic stories and each entry has a foreword by a famous admirer from actor Eddie Redmayne to England football World Cup hero Sir Bobby Charlton.
As she was handed the book, the Queen said: “That’s very grand, all of you’ve signed it? Splendid thank you very much – a good read I’m sure.”
The Queen was joined at the reception by the Duke of York and Princess Eugenie.