Queen Elizabeth Pens Extremely Rare Handwritten Note Granting the U.K.'s Highest Award for Non-Military Courage

Queen Elizabeth II just honored the U.K.'s National Health Service with one of her highest honors.

On Monday, the 95-year-old monarch announced her decision to give the public health organization a George Cross, an award that recognizes “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger.” This award, in particular, recognizes all NHS staff, past and present. Per Buckingham Palace, it is the U.K.'s highest award for non-military courage and is awarded by the queen on the advice of the George Cross committee and the prime minister.

For the occasion, which also happened to coincide with the NHS’s 73rd anniversary, the official Instagram account of the royal family shared a photo of a letter sent to the NHS on behalf of Her Majesty. And it was even written by hand.

“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,” she wrote in the note. “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.” She simply signed the message, “Elizabeth R.”

And while at first, we were a bit confused by the “R,” considering her last name is Windsor, it stands for “regina,” which means “queen” in Latin.

Congrats, NHS. What an amazing honor.

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