The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh opened the new £60 million headquarters for London’s Metropolitan police force on Thursday.
The event was filled with sombre moments, but 96-year-old Prince Philip ensured there were light-hearted moments as well. The official opening of New Scotland Yard was to be on March 23rd, the day after the London Bridge terror attack where eight people lost their lives.
One fatality was PC Keith Palmer. His friend and co-worker, PC Shaun Cartwright spoke to Her Majesty about that horrific day. PC Cartwright has been an officer with the Met Police for nearly 30 years. He was due to relieve his best friend, PC Palmer, of his duties, but an officer raised the alarm at the Palace of Westminster.
PC Cartwright told the Express: “I sometimes wonder if I’d got there five minutes earlier, I might have been able to help.
“I explained to The Queen that Keith was also my friend and not just someone I worked with and I miss him dearly – he was my best friend for 10 years.
“I was due to be taking over from Keith when another colleague put the call out there was a terrorist incident.
“I was getting ready to start so I just ran to the scene with whatever equipment I could get.
“I put a cordon at Westminster Hall. It was a very chaotic scene and I was just stopping people coming out of Westminster Hall while people were tending to Keith.”
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed to New Scotland Yard by Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey. During their tour, they were shown a display of police vehicles and historical items.
Her Majesty viewed the Roll of Honour, a book that lists all the names of officers who’ve given their lives on duty. The book was open on PC Palmer’s page, who since his tragic death has been posthumously awarded the George Medal for bravery. His gallantry citation states that his actions allowed other officers to react and stop the attacker.
PC Cartwright said that the Queen commented that during the attack, there was nowhere for the people on the bridge to hide. He said later: “She was right, there were no shop fronts for people to go into to escape”.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick praised the Royal Family for their support during London’s “difficult times”. She thanked the Royal Family for their support to all the citizens of London, for meeting the injured and those who work on the frontlines.
Speaking after the visit, Commissioner Dick said: “Of course, this event was originally planned for the day after the terrible Westminster attacks.
“Since then, London has had to cope with a number of tragic events and we appreciate the support of many, including the Royal Family, during these difficult times.”
In one of his last public engagements before retirement, the Duke of Edinburgh lightened the mood with one of his famous quips. During their tour, the royals met a range of professionals – from graduate trainees, lawyers and dog handlers. The Duke joked with the officer, saying: “Can you run?” He then moved as if he were attempting to run whilst weighed down.
The Duke also shared a joke with PC Colin Chappel who was with his police dog, Tigger. The Duke asked what his last job was. The officer responded, saying: “Funnily enough, he bit somebody in a back garden