The Prince of Wales paid tribute to the “valour and sacrifice” of police officers and staff as a national memorial in Staffordshire was dedicated to those who have “laid down their lives to keep us safe”.
Standing in the shadow of the new UK Police Memorial, Prince Charles expressed thanks on behalf of the country to the men and women who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect the nation.
On Wednesday, he unveiled a plaque at the monument, which commemorates almost 5,000 police officers and staff who have died on duty – 1,500 from acts of violence – since half-brothers Henry and John Fielding established the Bow Street Runners, London’s first professional police force, in 1749.
Families of police officers who have been killed on duty were among the invited guests, as was Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Also in attendance were chief constables from forces across the country, and representatives from policing charities.
Prince Charles speaks to Dame Cressida Dick at the unveiling of the new memorial …
… while Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, talks to other guests at the ceremony, who included serving police officers, police charities and the families of those killed in service
Credit: Anita Maric/SWNS
Boris Johnson lays a wreath at the site to commemorate those who have given their lives to protect the nation
Credit: Jacob King/PA
Prince Charles told the invited guests during the open-air ceremony: “To those of you with personal experience of the sudden, unexpected and tragic loss of someone in the police service, whether you are here today, viewing from home, or attending one of the many services within your constabularies, I can only offer the assurance of my most heartfelt thoughts and prayers.
“On behalf of the nation, I would particularly like to express my profound gratitude for the valour and sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe, to remember their families who mourn, and to recognise those who continue to serve in order to safeguard our freedoms.
“Whilst our expressions of appreciation will always be hopelessly inadequate and, unfortunately, make the anguish no easier to bear, I do pray that this memorial will not only provide a hallowed place for us all to pay tribute to each of them, but also the reassurance that those who have given their lives so selflessly will leave a lasting legacy and will never be forgotten.”
A minute’s silence was held to remember all those from the police service who have died in the line of duty. Prince Charles then led a wreath-laying ceremony, followed by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary.
In a pre-recorded video message, the Prime Minister said: “It takes a very special kind of person to be a police officer. When you pull that uniform, each day, you have little idea of what’s going to be asked of you, what dangers, you might face.
“All you know for sure is that anything could happen, and that there’s a chance, however small, that you won’t be going home to your loved ones at the end of your shift. Yet every day, you’d go out and serve the public all the same.”
Katherine Jenkins, the singer, performs at the unveiling of the new memorial
Credit: Anita Maric/SWNS
The new 39ft-tall (12m) brass memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire features leaf-shaped apertures representing courage, sacrifice and lives lost.
It was designed by Walter Jack and includes two low screens bearing the names of 2,000 police officers and staff, along with spaces for reflection.