The Queen will knight Colonel Tom Moore on Friday with her father’s sword at Windsor Castle after the 100-year-old veteran raised more than £32million for the NHS.
The fundraising hero will travel to the Berkshire royal residence with members of his family for the rare investiture with the monarch.
Colonel Sir Tom won the hearts of the nation after originally setting out to raise £1,000 for health service charities by walking laps of his Bedfordshire garden.
Royal investitures were put on hold during the pandemic and those scheduled to take place at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in June and July were postponed.
Colonel Tom Moore, pictured from his home in Bedfordshire above, will travel to the Berkshire royal residence with members of his family for the rare investiture with the monarch on Friday
But the 94-year-old Queen, who has been staying at Windsor since before lockdown for her safety, will carry out the official engagement in person – rare for the monarch during the pandemic – to honour Colonel Sir Tom.
The monarch will use the sword that belonged to her father, George VI, and will present Colonel Tom with the insignia of Knight Bachelor.
The insignia, which hangs on a red ribbon edged in gold and is usually placed around the recipient’s neck, will be part of the ceremony, but the Palace is still looking at how best to abide by social distancing rules.
The open-air ceremony will be staged in the castle’s quadrangle, where a military ceremony was held for the Queen’s official birthday in June, with no viewing positions for the public.
Such is the popularity of Colonel Sir Tom that members of the public are being asked not to attend Windsor town centre or gather in the hope of seeing any of the ceremony, which will not be visible from any external viewpoint.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: ‘On occasion, the Queen invests individuals privately during audiences.
‘Captain Sir Tom Moore’s knighthood was, exceptionally, announced individually by the Prime Minister, outside of the usual announcements of the Queen’s Birthday Honours and the New Year Honours.
‘Captain Sir Tom and his family were hopeful the investiture could take place in a timely fashion and we are pleased it has been possible on this occasion.’
Colonel Tom, pictured with his grandson Benji, daughter Hannah and granddaughter Georgia, received a special nomination for knighthood from the Prime Minister
The 94-year-old Queen, pictured during a video call from Windsor Castle, where she has been staying since before lockdown for her safety, will carry out the official engagement in person
The numbers involved will be kept to a minimum, without a military band.
Afterwards, Colonel Sir Tom and his family will be served refreshments inside the Castle, but the Queen will only be attending the ceremony.
Prince Philip, 99, who retired from public duties in 2017, will not be present.
A wet weather contingency plan is in place, although sunshine and warm temperatures are forecast for Windsor on Friday.
‘The ceremony will be held in line with all the appropriate government advice, adhering to strict social distancing guidelines,’ the spokeswoman said.
The monarch has been staying at Windsor with the Duke of Edinburgh and a reduced household dubbed HMS Bubble. Outdoor investitures are very rare.
The Queen formally invested her son, the Prince of Wales, with his title in 1969 in the grounds of Caernarfon Castle in a grand ceremony, but this was attended by hundreds of guests.
The monarch has also occasionally carried out investitures outside on overseas tours, but ceremonies usually take place inside royal residences.
Queen Elizabeth II watches a ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle in Berkshire, where she will knight Colonel Tom, to mark her official birthday on June 13
A ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle for the Queen’s official birthday on June 13. Afterwards, Colonel Sir Tom and his family will be served refreshments inside the Castle
In 1954, the Queen knighted the Councillor of the Kathiri State in Eastern Aden in an open-air ceremony during a Commonwealth tour.
Joining Captain Sir Tom for the ceremony will be his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, son-in-law Colin Ingram, grandson Benji and granddaughter Georgia.
Buckingham Palace said they believe it is the first time this ‘unique’ format will have taken place, amid the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic and the announcement of Captain Sir Tom Moore’s individual knighthood by Downing Street.
Colonel Tom previously revealed he will say ‘thank you very much’ to the Queen when he receives his knighthood.
Discussing the news on Good Morning Britain in May, the centenarian from Bedfordshire explained he is ‘thrilled that Her Majesty has chosen poor little me [to] be knighted.’
‘It really is a great honour and something I never ever anticipated,’ he said. ‘If the Queen is so gracious to bestow this honour on me, I’m totally thrilled by it. It never, ever entered my head that something like that could happen to me.’
The war veteran, who spoke from his garden in Marston Moretaine with his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, went on to joke his conversation with the Queen ‘would have to be kept secret.’
Colonel Tom pictured during the Second World War. Boris Johnson described him as a national treasure during the Covid-19 crisis after raising almost £33million for the NHS
‘The discussion between me and the Queen would have to be kept secret, I’ll say thank you very much Queen,’ he said.
Colonel Tom received a special nomination for knighthood from the Prime Minister, which was the first of dozens of coronavirus crisis gongs.
Boris Johnson described him as a national treasure and said he had provided a ‘beacon of light’ through the Covid-19 crisis.
The Second World War veteran had set out to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps before his 100th birthday on April 30. He completed the laps ahead of time and his determination captured the public imagination.
Almost £33million had been donated to his JustGiving page before it closed on the evening of his birthday. With Gift Aid, the total stands at £39million.
In a message to the nation, Colonel Tom told those watching that things will get better once this coronavirus crisis has passed, ‘as they always do.’
‘I think you go back to the song after the storm there will be a golden sky, you’ve got to look forward to the fact that things will improve as they always do,’ he said.
‘We will hear the larks singing again beautifully, that’s what we must truly believe because it will happen.’
The centenarian later told BBC Breakfast that his first reaction on receiving news of his knighthood was: ‘This can’t be true.’
‘I’ve always said: ‘This won’t happen’, and now it appears it actually has,’ he said. ‘But I certainly was never anticipating that that letter would arrive for me. I’m certainly delighted and I am overawed by the fact that this has happened to me.’
He joked that he hopes the Queen is ‘not very heavy-handed with the sword as by then I might be rather a poor old weak soul’.
From Yorkshire to India: Colonel Tom Moore’s career in the military
Captain Tom Moore was conscripted into the British Army in June 1940 when he was 20, alongside all men aged 20 to 35.
He began his military career in Otley, West Yorkshire, where he joined the 8th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment under Lieutenant Lord George Saville.
The Regiment was sent to train in Wadebridge, Cornwall where they were tasked with coastal defence amid a predicted German invasion.
A young Captain Moore was soon promoted to Corporal and sent to the officer cadet training unit in Droitwich Spa.
Here, he celebrated his 21st birthday after he passed as a Second Lieutenant.
In August 1941, he was sent to the DWR headquarters in Halifax where he joined the 9th Battalion at Winchcombe.
The infantry battalion then converted to an armoured regiment 146th Royal Armoured Corp, though the majority of the soldiers could not drive.
In October, the unit was posted to Bombay, now Mumbai, in India. The journey took six weeks by sea, with a four-day delay in Freetown, Sierra Leone and a four-day stop in Cape Town.
Captain Moore then took a train from Bombay to Poona, before arriving at Kirkee, a town now known as Khadki.
The 9th DWR formed the 50th Indian Tank Brigade under the command of Brigadier Schreiber.
Captain Moore was then asked by the Brigadier to start a motorcycling course for the Brigade due to his expertise for the sport.
The Brigade was then ordered to move to Calcutta – the road journey was in a monsoon and took three weeks.
His Battalion was stationed in the Lohardaga district near Ranchi.
They then took part in two exercises in the Arakan before moving further east and south to Rangoon.
Captain Moore was then sent on a course at the approved vehicle depot in Bovington, England.
He remained here as an instructor until it was closed.