So, I've got a plot where several people die bravely in order to save Queen Victoria. One is a member of her royal guard, one is a minor noble (hereditary, not overly rich, his lands are in the Scottish low-lands - that would probably make him a Lord of Parliament, right? Or could British barons have lands in Scotland?), one is a trusted personal servant and friend of the queen.
I'd like to mention that she'll award them some posthumous honour for their service and sacrifice. As I understand, knighthoods weren't awarded posthumously until 1988. The Victoria Cross sounds like it would work - the definition "awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy" fits the situation to a T. However, it seems that it's purely a military decoration? Wikipedia says that "It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and civilians under military command." Does being under direct orders of the queen at the time of the deed count as "civilian under military command"?
Also, there are some foreigners who survive and get offered a knighthood for helping save the queen. Was that possible in 1879? And also, would it be considered a personal affront to the queen to decline the offer? (I know that was done sometimes, even back then, it's mentioned in one o Arthur Conan Doyle's stories that Sherlock Holmes declined a knighthood.) It wouldn't be out of modesty here, more like the recipient couldn't care less about being decorated by some monarch, and doesn't consider her Majesty's life worth more than the handful of lives that were given to save her.
EDIT: Thanks for the quick answers, people. It seems the original plot I have to work with (an episode of Doctor Who) already flubbed the research, what with the Queen knighting people on the spot. I guess I'll have to take some artistic license as well.