The Queen, whose enthusiasm for her beloved army and navy was very earnest, and frankly shown, who had suffered with their sufferings and exulted in their exploits, followed with a keen, personal, unfaltering interest the efforts made for their relief. “Tell these poor, noble wounded and sick men that no one takes a warmer interest, or feels more for their sufferings, or admires their courage and heroism more than their Queen. So does the Prince,” was the impulsive, heart-warm message which Her Majesty sent for transmission through Miss Nightingale to her soldier-patients. Her deeds proved that these words were words of truth. Not content with subscribing largely to the fund raised on behalf of those left orphaned and widowed by the war, she took part in the work of providing fitting clothing for the men exposed to all the terrors of a Russian winter; and her daughters, enlisted to aid in this pious work, began that career of beneficence which two of them were to pursue afterwards to such good purpose, amid the ravages of wars whose colossal awfulness dwarfed the Crimean campaign in the memories of men.
Many of the injured being invalided home while the war was in progress, Her Majesty embraced the opportunity to testify her sympathy and admiration, giving to them in public with her own hands the medals for service rendered at Alma, at Balaklava, and at Inkerman. It would not be easy to say whether the Sovereign or the soldiers were more deeply moved on this occasion. Conspicuous among the maimed and feeble heroes was the gallant young Sir Thomas Troubridge, who, lamed in both feet by a Russian shot at Inkerman, had remained at his post, giving his orders, while the fight endured, since there was none to fill his place. He appeared now, crippled for life, but declared himself “amply repaid for everything,” while the Queen decorated him, and told him he should be one of her aides-de-camp. Her own high courage and resolute sense of duty moved her with special sympathy for heroism like this; and she obeyed the natural dictates of her heart in conspicuously rewarding it. With a similar impulse, on the return of the army, she made a welcoming visit to the sick and wounded at Chatham, and testified the liveliest appreciation of the humane services of Miss Nightingale, to whom a jewel specially designed by the Prince was presented, in grateful recognition of her inestimable work. The new decoration of the Victoria Cross, given “for valour” conspicuously shown in deeds of self-devotion in war time, further proved how keenly the Queen and her consort appreciated soldierly virtue. It was the Prince who first proposed that such a badge of merit should be introduced, the Queen who warmly accepted the idea, and in person bestowed the Cross on its first wearers, thereby giving it an unpurchasable value.