The bravery of Victoria Cross holders was celebrated yesterday at a special service to mark the 150th anniversary of the prestigious medal.
Servicemen and women whose valour and courage earned them the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy were praised for their "love, loyalty and comradeship".
The Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, attended the service at Westminster Abbey along with more than 2,000 other guests, many of whom are relatives of past holders of the VC.
The event also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, of which Charles is president.
Among the twelve surviving recipients of the VC who attended the service was Private Johnson Beharry, who last year became the first new holder of the honour in more than two decades.
In his sermon to the congregation, the Bishop of London the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres said: "Abstract words like valour and gallantry are brought to life by so many individual stories which we remember in the celebration.
"And so many of these stories reveal that men and women give of their best not for some grand idea, some '-ism' but out of love, loyalty and comradeship."
The VC and GC holders were commemorated in the solemn service with hymns, prayers and readings recounting the exploits of some of the recipients of the honours.
In an act of remembrance the Prince, accompanied by his wife, laid a wreath at the VC, GC memorial near the Great West Door of the Abbey.
They were joined during the brief ceremony by VC holders Pte Beharry and Keith Payne and GC holders Lance Corporal Chris Finney and Henry Stevens.
In the moments after the wreath was laid the Last Post was sounded and there was a short period of silence.
Pte Beharry, 26, from the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment, twice saved the lives of countless colleagues while under enemy fire in Iraq.
In March 2003, L/Cpl Finney, of the Blues and Royals, at the time an 18-year-old trooper, was driving a Scimitar north of Basra, when his and another vehicle were attacked in a friendly-fire incident.
L/Cpl Finney escaped from the burning vehicle but returned to free his trapped gunner and again returned to the Scimitar to send a report.
During the service, the first VC and GC to be awarded were taken to the Abbey's altar by descendants of the men who originally received the honours.
Michael Adams, the great grandson of Rear Admiral Charles Lucas, who received the VC on June 21, 1854, carried the medal.
Pamela Wilson, daughter of Thomas Alderson, who received the GC on September 1, 1940, carried her father's medal to the altar.
The VC was instituted by Queen Victoria on January 29, 1856, and made retrospective to 1854 to include gallant actions in the Crimean War.
The George Cross was instituted by King George VI in 1940, and is awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger".