UK

London streets go quiet to remember PC Palmer

Police officers line the streets as the funeral cortege of PC Keith Palmer leaves Southwark Cathedral Image copyright Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, streets in south London came to a standstill to remember PC Keith Palmer, the police officer killed in the Westminster attack.

Traffic stopped along the route of his funeral cortege - from Westminster to Southwark - and restaurants and cafes emptied with the peaceful conformity that hundreds of police officers can summon.

Hundreds of people quietly gathered at the roadside hours before the coffin arrived.

Among them, a former officer who spoke of the huge sense of pride he felt for what he called the "police family".

And this family was out in force on Monday. Rows and rows of police officers lined the route as many more looked on from the crowds.

For many onlookers, this would be the most police officers they had ever seen and certainly the biggest funeral.

The pageantry was an extraordinary display of solidarity and national pride for the people who protect us - albeit a small consolation to the family and friends of PC Palmer.

The scene was - as one passerby put it - "humbling".

Image copyright Phil Coomes/BBC

The quietness continued even as the crowds swelled.

Amongst them were workers from nearby offices and tourists who had stumbled across the whole thing unknowingly, but were drawn to stay.

As one well-wisher said: "He's given his entire life and it's only right that we pay our respects."

For such a public event, there were also private moments of grief.

The officer who stood stoically even as the tears rolled down his face at the sight of the flower-laden hearse. The man for whom it became too much as he clutched the railings and sobbed.

And of course for the family - the people to whom Keith Palmer was 'no 1 daddy', husband, son and brother - who were in the forefront of everyone's minds as the coffin passed.

Image copyright Reuters

For one woman waiting outside London Bridge station, the day was particularly poignant.

Helen Byfield's husband was a colleague of PC Palmer. She described the dead officer as "trusting" and "reliable".

She organises the UK Police Unity tour - a bike ride which raises money for the families of officers who have lost their lives on duty.

She said part of today was a reminder that PC Palmer's loved ones would still be part of the police family and have all the support which that brings.

"They won't be forgotten," she added.

Image copyright Phil Coomes
Image caption Helen Byfield said PC Palmer's family 'won't be forgotten'

Large parts of the crowd remained long after the service had started, in quiet contemplation alongside the lines of unwavering police officers.

The sound of traffic was replaced with the hymns from within the Cathedral - played out into the streets over loud speakers.

The service concluded with a rendition of God Save the Queen which echoed out onto the London roads.

As the hearse made its way back from the cathedral, spontaneous applause erupted from the crowd for PC Palmer's final journey.

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