Published 15 December 2009

Often, your loyalty to one another will mean the difference between life and death.

The Duke of Cambridge

Tonight I’d like to start by saying that this Country is blessed with its Armed Forces. These are not just words. It is the truth.

 Your unremitting pursuit of excellence, your humanity, your humility, your extraordinary self-discipline, your camaraderie – regardless of background – mark you out as amongst the very best in our society.

Two hundred years ago, on the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson wrote the following words: ‘ May humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet’.

These sentiments of decency, tied to supreme professionalism, have continued from his day to our own.

 They have never been better demonstrated than by our nominees here tonight. I count it a huge privilege and an honour to wear the same uniform as you.

 The challenges facing our Armed Forces demand unity and team work. For the sailors, soldiers and airmen who go out and fight on our behalf, this comes as second nature. Often, your loyalty to one another will mean the difference between life and death.

 The example that you show us has penetrated the national psyche. It has drawn the British people together in an extraordinary way. The magnificent response up and down the country on Armistice Day this year bears powerful testimony to this. So, I would say that although you serve the Country, you also show us the way.

I congratulate all the nominees tonight. I congratulate you as individuals. But I also congratulate you for the way in which you so clearly demonstrate, through the great things you have done and the humility with which you have done them, the example of how to live a noble life.

On behalf of us all, I would like to thank The Sun newspaper for its continuing support to our Armed Forces, and for establishing these important Military Awards. Have a wonderful evening.