The Queen joined wounded veterans to unveil a memorial, paying tribute to soldiers killed while serving in the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in the past decade.
Her Majesty, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, unveiled the statue of a bronze lion on a stone plinth at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Family and friends of fallen soldiers from Burnley’s local regiment were among those at the private service to unveil a statue of the “Lion of England”, featured on the regiment’s royal badge.
A total of 32 members of the regiment have died in service in the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment since it was formed in 2006, after an amalgamation of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, the King’s Regiment, and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.
Following the service of dedication at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, the Queen placed a wreath below the statue, and praised the work of the memorial’s creators.
The Queen chatted to stonemason Nick Johnson and sculptor Georgie Welch, who crafted the lion from clay before it was cast at a Gloucestershire foundry.
The tribute to the regiment, which recruits in Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester, is seated on a plinth of Cumbrian stone featuring a carving of a glider.
The heraldic lion faces north-west in tribute to the origins of the regiment.
Speaking after the service, Georgie Welch, based in Wiltshire, said: “It was five-and-a-half months in the making in clay before it went to the foundry.
“The Queen said it was very lifelike and that it had a real look of power. She also said it looked fearless. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop my knees shaking, but the Queen was absolutely charming.”
Mr Johnson, from Westbury in Wiltshire, said he was honoured to have worked on the tribute. It couldn’t get any better,” he said.
“I don’t think you can get any higher honour than to meet the Queen.”
After the service, the Queen, making her fourth visit to the 150-acre arboretum, signed a visitors’ book before meeting injured servicemen and women, including Invictus Games gold medallist Corporal Luke Reeson.
The site contains more than 240 monuments and around 50,000 trees – a living memorial devoted to the concept of remembrance.