Northern Ireland

Prince opens police garden of remembrance in Belfast

Prince Charles met PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton at the ceremony Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Charles met PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton at the ceremony

Prince Charles has opened a garden of remembrance for police officers killed on duty in Northern Ireland.

Relatives of those Police Service of Northern Ireland officers killed or injured on duty attended the ceremony at the PSNI's Belfast headquarters.

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall laid a wreath in honour of the dead and held brief talks with NI Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The royal couple have now left NI for a visit to the Republic of Ireland.

They are meeting President Michael D Higgins, and are expected to meet Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Enda Kenny, as well as visiting Kilkenny Castle.

The couple are also expected to attend ceremonies at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin to commemorate those who lost their lives in the World War One and during the Easter Rising.

Their visit to the Republic is at the request of the British government.

Death in service

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall last visited Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland last May.

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Image caption The Prince accompanied by the PSNI Chief Constable

The PSNI memorial garden pays tribute to the 13 officers who have died in service since the force was founded in 2001; their names are recorded in a book of remembrance.

The new garden adjoins a memorial garden to the 300 officers from the PSNI's predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who were killed during the Troubles.

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Image caption The names of the officers who have died in service since the PSNI was founded in 2001 are recorded in a book of remembrance

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, Mr Hamilton said it was a very special, but also sad, day for the families and the police service as they remembered those who had died.

"This is a fitting tribute to our colleagues who have died in the course of their service and will ensure that their dedication to duty and sacrifice is never forgotten," he said.

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Image caption The Duchess of Cornwall chats to Kate Carroll whose husband Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead by dissident republicans in 2009

Heaney's Homeplace

"The visit was also an opportunity for HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Duchess of Cornwall to meet personally with the family members of those who had died and lay a wreath and flowers in their memory."

The Duchess of Cornwall was presented with a posy of flowers by seven-year-old Victoria Grieves whose father Constable Gary Grieves died in a road traffic collision as he was travelling home from duty in August 2010.

The Royal couple's trip began on Tuesday with a visit to the Seamus Heaney Homeplace Centre in Bellaghy, where they met members of the poet's family.

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Image caption The plaque unveiled by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall

They then met staff and patients at the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, before attending a musical gathering at Hillsborough Castle in County Down.

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