Queen ends decades of speculation by breaking silence on royal controversy

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Historians have spent many years debating the ranking order of the George Cross and Victoria Cross. The Victoria Cross was created in 1856 by Queen Victoria for acts of bravery in “the presence of the enemy”. The George Cross was introduced by her great-grandson 80 years ago in 1940 to ensure the bravery of people serving in World War 2 was recognised.

Experts have argued both awards were on the same level despite the latter generally being considered the second-highest honours decoration in the UK.

Now Her Majesty has cleared up the order of the two medals by announcing they are joint honours.

The Royal Family posted on Instagram: “The George Cross is the equivalent of the Victoria Cross, which rewards actors of bravery on military operations.”

The Royal Family also revealed the cross has been awarded to more than 400 people over the years.

The official account said: “On this day in 1940, King George VI addressed the nation as the first year of the Second World War came to an end.

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On this day in 1940, King George VI addressed the nation as the first year of the Second World War came to an end. The King announced that a new honour would be created in his name. His Majesty said: “Many and glorious are the deeds of gallantry done during these perilous but famous days. In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised I have decided to create at once a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. “I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross…and the George Medal for wider distribution.” The George Cross recognises acts of bravery carried out when not under enemy fire, and has been awarded to more than 400 recipients since its creation 80 years ago. Visit our George Cross story highlight to learn more

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“The King announced that a new honour would be created in his name.

“His Majesty said: ‘Many and glorious are the deeds of gallantry done during these perilous but famous days.

“‘In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised I have decided to create at once a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life.

“’I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross…and the George Medal for wider distribution.’

“The George Cross recognises acts of bravery carried out when not under enemy fire, and has been awarded to more than 400 recipients since its creation 80 years ago.”

Many of the first people to receive the George Cross were those recognised for their rescue work and bomb disposal during the Blitz.

Odette Hallowes was the first woman to be awarded the cross in 1946.

During World War 2, she worked undercover with the special operations executive

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Despite being captured by German Secret State Police, she refused to expose the identities of other agents and helped save many lives.

The most recent George Cross was awarded to former Royal Marine and Paratrooper Dominic Troulan in 2017.

He was praised for his bravery while rescuing civilians during a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Queen has been the patron of the Victoria Cross and George Cross association since becoming head of state in 1952.

She often holds receptions at Buckingham Palace for those who receive the honours, as well as the families of those who have died at war.

Lord Ashcroft said he welcomed the confirmation that the medals are equal.

He told The Sun: “I welcome this ruling as I have long admired the cold courage of many GC recipients, including bomb disposal experts.

“Such men and women risk and sometimes give their lives to save others.”

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