LONDON (AP) — In the end, Sir Tom didn’t need to rise.
On a day infused with emotion, Queen Elizabeth II tapped the blade of a sword once owned by her father on the slender shoulders of 100-year-old Tom Moore, making a hero of a nation a knight of the realm Friday.
Moore captivated the British public by walking 100 laps of his garden in England and raising some 33 million pounds ($40 million) for the National Health Service in April. The queen knighted him with the traditional sword tap, but the World War II veteran was not required to take a knee before the monarch.
Instead, Moore steadied himself against his now-famous walker and wheeled himself across the grass to stand in front of Elizabeth.
“I have been overwhelmed by the many honours I have received over the past weeks, but there is simply nothing that can compare to this,” he tweeted after the ceremony. “I am overwhelmed with pride and joy.“
The ceremony was staged outside of Windsor Castle west of London, where the 94-year old queen has been sheltering during the COVID-19 pandemic alongside her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Moore, who rose to the rank of captain while serving in India and Burma during the war, revealed that he and Elizabeth spoke about ages – slightly breaking the protocol of not revealing a private conversation with the queen.
“She did mention I’m 100, and I said to her, ‘Well, you’ve a long way to go yet,’ so she’s alright,” he said.
Moore walked into the nation’s hearts by setting a goal of marking his 100th birthday with a garden lap for each year of his life.
His family elevated the challenge by using social media and the motto #TomorrowWillBeAGoodDay to seek donations to support health care workers during the pandemic, in part a show of gratitude for the doctors and nurses who took care of Moore when he broke his hip last year.
He dreamed of raising 1,000 pounds. Instead, he raised so much more.