The parents of Australian soldier Cameron Baird have met the Queen at Buckingham Palace some nine months after their son was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.
Corporal Baird, 32, was killed in mid-2013 as he assaulted an insurgent-held compound during a special forces mission in Afghanistan.
He became Australia’s 100th recipient of the military honour in February when his parents Doug and Kaye accepted the VC from then governor general Quentin Bryce.
Now the couple have met the Queen in London.
Kaye said it was “humbling” to represent their late son at the palace.
“Never in a million years would we have thought we’d be doing this,” she told reporters after the 20-minute private meeting with Her Majesty.
“We would have loved it to be Cameron here representing himself but under the circumstances we hope we’ve done him proud.
“Cameron shied away from any recognition and it’s only befitting that he gets that recognition now.”
Corporal Baird served in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal for Gallantry.
His parents are in London with some 23 living recipients of the George Cross and Victoria Cross.
Among them are Australian VC recipients Ben Roberts-Smith, Daniel Keighran and Mark Donaldson – who all served in Afghanistan – and former policeman Michael Pratt who received the George Cross in 1978. Pratt was shot in 1976 when attempting to stop a bank robbery in Melbourne. Also participating in the royal events is Sir Roden Cutler’s widow Joan.
The decorated group met Prince Charles on Monday, the Queen and Prince Philip on Tuesday and Prince Harry on Wednesday.
Doug Baird said it was an “extreme honour” to be spending time with the medal recipients who reunite every two years.
“There are some incredible stories and people in that group,” Baird said on Wednesday.
“We feel that Cameron would rightly be able to sit at that table equal with any of them with the deeds that he did.”
Corporal Roberts-Smith knew Corporal Baird and has now shared a beer with his dad.
“Ben was very glowing in his remarks [about Cameron],” Baird said. “He made a comment which I think sums it up. [He said] ‘We were both cut from the same cloth’.”
Baird said if Cameron could see his parents at Buckingham Palace “he’d be up there laughing”.
Kaye added: “He’s probably thinking at least I’m not down there having to do these things. Hopefully we’ve done him proud.”
The Bairds, who live on the Gold Coast, fly home this weekend via the United Arab Emirates where they’ll visit Australia’s outpost at Al Minhad Air Base.
It’s called Camp Baird in tribute to their fallen son