PC Palmer ‘laid down his life for each one of us’

The hearse carrying the coffin of PC Keith Palmer, the officer killed in the March 22 Westminster terror attack. Picture; Getty
The hearse carrying the coffin of PC Keith Palmer, the officer killed in the March 22 Westminster terror attack. Picture; Getty

Thousands of police officers yesterday turned out to pay their respects to PC Keith Palmer who was murdered in the Westminster terror attack.

The 48-year-old father-of-one was stabbed to death by Khalid Masood as he carried out his duties on the forecourt of the Palace of Westminster.

PC Palmer’s funeral cortege, including his hearse topped with a floral tribute reading No1 Daddy, left the palace, where his coffin lay in rest overnight, through the Carriage Gates he died defending.

The procession travelled along 2.6 miles of the city’s usually bustling streets, avoiding the scene of last month’s atrocity on Westminster Bridge, on its journey to Southwark Cathedral.

Around 50 members of PC Palmer’s family including his wife, child, mother and father, attended the cathedral service, led by the Dean of Southwark, the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, followed by a private cremation.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick and the manager and captain of PC Palmer’s beloved Charlton Athletic FC, Karl Robinson and Johnnie Jackson, were present.

Ms Dick read the WH Auden poem Funeral Blues, which begins “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone”, and asks for “the traffic police men to wear black cotton gloves” in mourning of a loved one.

She later said: “It was a ­chosen by the family, it was a poem they wanted to have read and for me it was an enormous privilege to be asked to read it. It’s a very powerful poem.”

Reverend Prebendary Jonathan Osborne, senior chaplain to the force, said: “Keith died doing his duty, and it was as if in those moments the clock stopped.”

He said PC Palmer had “laid down his life for each one of us” when he intercepted Khalid Masood, who was also killed during the Westminster attack.

The Met said more than 5,000 officers from the force and across the UK had gathered for the service and to line the route. Thousands more officers and staff at police stations across the country marked two minutes’ silence at 2pm.

Many who watched the ­procession pass were in tears as members of PC Palmer’s ­family followed the hearse in black cars. Two National Police Air Service helicopters also ­performed a flypast.

Before attacking PC Palmer, Masood had driven his car into crowds on Westminster Bridge. College worker Aysha Frade, 44, US tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, and retired London window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, were also killed. Romanian Andreea Cristea, 31, who fell from the bridge into the River Thames, died last week.