Queen Elizabeth

Queen ElizabethGetty: Images

Queen Elizabeth has awarded Britain's highest award for bravery to the NHS

The Queen has awarded the George Cross, the UK’s highest award for gallantry and heroism, to the NHS to mark its public service over seven decades, Buckingham Palace has announced.

Today sees the NHS celebrate its 73rd birthday in what has been quite possibly one of the most difficult years the health service has ever had to endure. 

The pandemic has put health workers under untold levels of stress and has forced hospitals to work to the very limits of their capacity. While the vaccine rollout has eased much of the stress in the United Kingdom, the Delta variant has meant that another surge is expected.

King George VI created this award during the blitz of WWII, and this is only the third time it has been awarded to an institution as opposed to an individual.

The Queen shared a message for the occasion that said "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. This award recognizes all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations. Over more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, you have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion, and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service.
“You have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation. Elizabeth R."

Queen Elizabeth has always been appreciative of the NHS, and has made a point of meeting various health workers consistently over the years.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the NHS at a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Monday before hosting a celebration tea at Buckingham Palace.