When Victorian Cross recipient Corporal Daniel Keighran met the Queen in her private apartment at Buckingham Palace, the first thing they discussed was, typically, the dreadful British weather.
A year after Cpl Keighran was presented in Canberra with Australia’s highest military honour for bravery, he was making small talk with Her Majesty in London.
It was a world away from what occurred in Afghanistan in August 2010, when the Queensland-born soldier deliberately broke cover to draw enemy fire away from his fellow soldiers.
“I was a little bit nervous about it, but I think it went off quite well,” Cpl Keighran said of his 15-minute meeting with the Queen.
The pair initially talked about the rain falling outside.
Cpl Keighran contrasted conditions with Kalgoorlie where he now works in an underground gold mine.
It was 40C back in Western Australia this week.
The 99th Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross wouldn’t reveal what he and the Queen went on to discuss, but it’s understood the war in Afghanistan was on the agenda.
The 30-year-old and his wife Kathryn also presented Her Majesty with a photography book of Kalgoorlie on Wednesday.
“You’ve got to turn up with something, don’t you?” he said afterwards.
Cpl Keighran – who became a reservist in 2011 – is the first non-specialist to receive the VC.
Special forces soldiers Mark Donaldson and Ben Roberts-Smith are the other recipients for action in Afghanistan.
The medals are all made by London jeweller Hancocks and Co. from the same cannons captured during the Crimean War in the mid-1800s.
Cpl Keighran dropped by the store on Tuesday during what is his first stay in the English capital.
“On the spur of the moment I went in and said hello,” he said.
“I think they were actually quite surprised.”
The quietly-spoken soldier on Wednesday again acknowledging his fellow soldiers in the 6RAR who fought by his side in Afghanistan.
“I wouldn’t be here today without their support,” he said at the palace.
“It’s not just about me. Some of the guys did some remarkable things in the battle of Derapet.”
One fellow digger – Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney – was killed.
Cpl Keighran will read the oath at Australian War Memorial in London on Remembrance Day before heading back to night shifts in the gold mine.