Recipients of the highest honours that can be awarded to military personnel and civilians for services to their country are to take part in the procession at the Queen’s funeral.
Seventeen of the 23 recipients of the Victoria Cross for military valour and the George Cross for civilian gallantry will be in attendance at the service on Monday, including one from New Zealand and four from Australia.
Among the George Cross recipients attending is Jim Beaton GC CVO, who was awarded the honour after he was shot three times while foiling a gunman’s attempted kidnap of the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, in 1974.
“It was a privilege to work for Her Majesty,” Beaton said. “I have many very fond memories.”
Seven will be involved in the Procession of the Orders of Chivalry, including CSgt Johnson Beharry VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for twice saving colleagues while under fire in Iraq.
Beharry, 43, of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, said: “I am deeply saddened at the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“She was an extraordinary role model and an inspiration to many. In every engagement that I have had with her she showed great compassion, humility and pure warmth.
“Pinning upon me the Victoria Cross is among the fondest memories that I will hold very closely to my heart.
“I feel very humble and honoured and indeed fortunate to be included in her funeral procession.”
Others representing the George Cross include Tony Gledhill GC and Maj Peter Norton GC.
Norton, 59, chairman of the VC and GC Association, was awarded the George Cross in 2006 after checking for an improvised explosive device (IED) near Baghdad the year before, leading to the loss of his left leg, severe injuries to his right leg, abdomen, back and left arm.
“In January 1983 I swore an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors; almost 40 years later, over 30 of which have been spent in uniform, I hold that allegiance still to be true,” he said.
“For me, Queen Elizabeth II was the boss and I enjoyed every single year in her service.
“Being awarded the George Cross by her was the greatest of honours and it was subsequently a privilege and joy to have met her on so many occasions.”
Gledhill, 84, is a former police officer who was awarded the George Cross in May 1967 for an act of bravery for pursuing a recklessly driven car.
He told PA Media: “I’m a real royalist, so it will be an honour to be involved in the procession. We have rehearsals and various other things in the next few days.
“It’s something I’ll be very proud of.”