Queen beams with delight as she praises 'amazing' NHS Covid vaccine rollout

The Queen has awarded the NHS with the George Cross as she celebrated the institution's achievements over the years

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The Queen has praised the “amazing” Covid-19 vaccine rollout as she celebrated the NHS at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

Awarding the institution the George Cross, the 96-year-old head of state beamed with delight as she was joined by her son, Prince Charles.

Health leaders from the four home nations were each awarded the medal, in a small ceremony at Her Majesty's royal residence.

They were joined by frontline workers from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Queen beamed with delight during the ceremony
The Queen beamed with delight during the ceremony
The George Cross
The George Cross

May Parsons, the nurse who delivered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan on December 8 2020, was also in attendance.

The Queen, who wore a day dress and moved with the aid of her now familiar walking stick, made her guests laugh with the quip: “You’re still alive?”

When the nurse told the Queen: “We’re terribly, terribly proud of the vaccination roll-out, it was so successful,” she replied: “Yes, it was amazing.”

And when NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard highlighted the tens of millions who have been jabbed, the monarch said: “Tremendous!"

Referring to the medal, Her Majesty asked: “And what are you going to do with it?”

She was told by Ms Pritchard it would go on tour of the NHS before a permanent home is found.

Each health executive from the four nations and their frontline colleague came up in turn to receive a George Cross which had been placed on a cushion carried by the Queen’s Equerry Lieutenant Colonel Tom White.

The Queen touched the cushion in a gesture to symbolise its presentation.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office with responsibility for organising ceremonial events, read out the George Cross citation at the start of the ceremony.

He said: “It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful Nation, that the George Cross is awarded to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom.

“This award recognises 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.”