Queen Elizabeth Holds Her First Investiture Ceremony in 2 Years to Bestow Rare Honor to COVID-19 Workers

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·2 min read
Queen Elizabeth Holds Her First Investiture Ceremony in 2 Years to Bestow Rare Honor to COVID-19 Workers
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Queen Elizabeth just held a very special investiture ceremony alongside Prince Charles.

The Queen, 96, presented the George Cross to representatives of the National Health Service from the four countries that make up the U.K. at Windsor Castle on Tuesday. The honor was to mark their service during the coronavirus pandemic.

The George Cross was instituted by King George VI in September 1940 during the height of the Blitz to recognize "acts of the greatest heroism or the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger." It is the highest civilian order that can be bestowed by the monarch.

The Queen met with four frontline workers — one representative from each Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales — as well as their corresponding Chief Executives of the NHS.

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Queen Elizabeth II (5L) and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (5R) pose with (back row LtoR) Peter May, Permanent Secretary at Britain's Department of Health, Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive NHS England, Caroline Lamb, Chief Executive NHS Scotland, and Judith Paget, Chief Executive NHS Wales as (front row LtoR) Sister Joanna Hogg, Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department, May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, Eleanor Grant, Palliative Care Nurse, Specialist University Hospital Wishaw, NHS Lanarkshire, and Dr Ami Jones, Intensive Care Consultant, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board sit with George Cross medals awarded to Britian's National Health Service (NHS) Audience at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth II (5L) and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (5R) pose with (back row LtoR) Peter May, Permanent Secretary at Britain's Department of Health, Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive NHS England, Caroline Lamb, Chief Executive NHS Scotland, and Judith Paget, Chief Executive NHS Wales as (front row LtoR) Sister Joanna Hogg, Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department, May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, Eleanor Grant, Palliative Care Nurse, Specialist University Hospital Wishaw, NHS Lanarkshire, and Dr Ami Jones, Intensive Care Consultant, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board sit with George Cross medals awarded to Britian's National Health Service (NHS) Audience at Windsor Castle

AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles

This marks only the second time during the Queen's 70-year reign that the award has been presented collectively to an organization or group of people. In 1999, she presented the George Cross to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Queen Elizabeth II presents the George Cross to Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Chief Executive of Health and Social care, and Sister Joanna Hogg, Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department, representatives of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), during an Audience at Windsor Castle, west of London on July 12, 2022. - Queen Elizabeth II praised Tuesday the "amazing" Covid-19 vaccine rollout, awarding the National Health Service (NHS) the George Cross
Queen Elizabeth II presents the George Cross to Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Chief Executive of Health and Social care, and Sister Joanna Hogg, Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department, representatives of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), during an Audience at Windsor Castle, west of London on July 12, 2022. - Queen Elizabeth II praised Tuesday the "amazing" Covid-19 vaccine rollout, awarding the National Health Service (NHS) the George Cross

AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth

Although members of the royal family have hosted investiture ceremonies on behalf of the Queen, the monarch herself has not personally handed out honors since 2020, when she knighted Captain Sir Thomas Moore for raising more than $40 million for the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) amid the coronavirus lockdown by walking 100 laps in his backyard garden.

Queen Elizabeth II presents the George Cross to NHS England CEO Amanda Pritchard (R), and May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, representatives of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), during an Audience at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth II presents the George Cross to NHS England CEO Amanda Pritchard (R), and May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, representatives of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), during an Audience at Windsor Castle

AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth

For the occasion, the Queen wore a floral print dress and pearl jewelry. She stood in photos without the aide of a walking cane, which has she has been using in recent months to help with her ongoing mobility issues. However, the cane was nearby behind the Queen's chair, on which she left her signature handbag during the ceremony.

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Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Charles, presenting the George Cross to representatives of the National Health Service (centre), Ms Judith Paget CBE, Chief Executive NHS Wales and Dr Ami Jones MBE, Intensive Care Consultant, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, watched by (left to right) Ms May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, Ms Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, Sister Joanna Hogg, Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department, Mr Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Chief Executive of Health and Social care, Ms Caroline Lamb, Chief Executive NHS Scotland, and Ms Eleanor Grant, Palliative Care Nurse, Specialist University Hospital Wishaw, NHS Lanarkshire, during an Audience at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Charles, presenting the George Cross to representatives of the National Health Service (centre), Ms Judith Paget CBE, Chief Executive NHS Wales and Dr Ami Jones MBE, Intensive Care Consultant, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, watched by (left to right) Ms May Parsons, Modern Matron at University Hospital Coventry and Warkwickshire, Ms Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, Sister Joanna Hogg, Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department, Mr Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Chief Executive of Health and Social care, Ms Caroline Lamb, Chief Executive NHS Scotland, and Ms Eleanor Grant, Palliative Care Nurse, Specialist University Hospital Wishaw, NHS Lanarkshire, during an Audience at Windsor Castle

Aaron Chown/WPA Pool/Shutterstock Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth was diagnosed with coronavirus in February. During the video call marking the official opening of the Royal London Hospital's Queen Elizabeth Unit a few weeks later, the monarch commented that COVID-19 "does leave one feeling very tired and exhausted, doesn't it? This horrible pandemic."