Queen Victoria authorizes introduction of a new decoration for valor under arms, the Victoria Cross. In the century and a half since then, only 1,353 have been awarded, most recently to Corporal Bryan Budd in the Afghanistan war.
Astonishingly, three people have been awarded the VC twice.
The Victoria Cross is the equivalent of the US Medal of Honor - in fact, there was a mutual exchange of these decorations by Britain and the United States at the end of World War I, where each awarded their honor to the other's Unknown Soldier.
Since the award is only presented for actions taken under extreme danger and in the face of the enemy, it is usually awarded posthumously, and anyone who survives to receive it is treated as a separate breed, due extreme honor and deference.
Usually. Tul Bahadur Pun received the Victoria Cross for single handedly taking a Japanese bunker, after all his comrades had been killed or wounded, charging the position with a Bren gun firing from his hip. In 2006, old and sick, he applied for a visa to move to the UK. The Foreign Office turned him down, saying "failed to demonstrate strong ties with the UK".
Fortunately, saner heads pointed out (after much controversy) that this was bollox, and Mr. Pun was allowed to move to Mer Majesty's Scepter'd Isle. Fittingly, he was met at Heathrow airport by an Honour Guard. One hopes that the Foreign Office chaps have learned a little about "strong ties to the UK" and all that.