By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service, who is in the UK at this time
LONDON, UK (ANS – April 10, 2017) — Millions of people across the British Isles today (Monday, April 10, 2017), mourned the killing of PC Keith Palmer, the 48-year-old London police officer who was murdered on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in the shocking Westminster terror attack.
They were joined by thousands of police officers who lined the streets of central London to remember their fallen colleague, who was stabbed to death by British-born Muslim convert, Khalid Masood, as PC Palmer carried out his duties on the cobbled forecourt of the Palace of Westminster.
The funeral cortege travelled from the Palace of Westminster, where his coffin had laid in rest overnight, for 2.6 miles through the capital’s usually bustling streets, to Southwark Cathedral, just over the River Thames, thus avoiding the scene of last month’s atrocity on Westminster Bridge.
PC Palmer, 48, who was married with a five-year-old daughter, was guarding the Houses of Parliament when he was stabbed by Khalid Masood, and was then shot by a police officer standing with him.
Around 50 members of PC Palmer’s family including his wife, child, mother and father, brother and sisters attended the cathedral service, led by the Dean of Southwark, The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, and followed by a private cremation. The Dead said that it was important that the family could grieve privately and for the public to pay their respects.
“I hope for the family they receive the comfort that they need through the service,” he said. “They’re having to grieve publicly and that must be a very, very difficult thing.”
The BBC said that two police helicopters performed an aerial salute known as a “missing man formation” above the cathedral, where the helicopters bowed to the right.
Roy Ramm, a former Met Police Commander, said it was a “painful irony” to see officers ride motorcycles clearing the way for their colleague’s funeral cortege.
“Normally they would be doing this for members of the Royal Family,” he said. “What must be going through their minds to be doing it for a fallen colleague?”
Members of the public also gathered to watch the funeral cortege, while screens were erected outside Southwark Cathedral to broadcast the service.
Campbell McBryer, a retired counter-terrorism officer who served with Sussex police for 23 years, said he was “proud” of the support people had shown. “I just sat and cried when I heard the news,” he added.
Another well-wisher, David Lewis, from Orpington, Kent, said it was important for ordinary Londoners to pay their respects.
“It just shows as a country that we want to pay our respects to somebody that gave their life to protect the rest of us,” he said.
The Metropolitan Police said more than 5,000 officers from the force and across the country were expected to gather in central London for the service and to line the route, which has seen dozens of roads closed to traffic for hours.
The floral tributes around his coffin served as a reminder – “Son”, “husband”, and “brother”. But leading them all on the front of the hearse, emblazoned with roses: “No. 1 Daddy.”
“I don’t think we will have ever seen a police funeral of this size,” said Sara Thornton, who leads the National Police Chiefs’ Council. She said Keith “didn’t hesitate to act” when confronted by Masood.
“His bravery and his courage are something that all officers are very proud of, but also there is a tremendous sense of sadness and of loss.”
PC Palmer’s body had been lying in rest at the Palace of Westminster by special permission of the Queen.
Members of his family attended a short private service in the chapel on Sunday, before officers watched over his coffin throughout the night ahead of the procession on Monday.
PC Palmer, who had served in the Metropolitan Police for 15 years, also had his name added to the National Police Memorial, which records the names of officers who have been killed in the line of duty, during a special ceremony in London.
The funeral is the first engagement for new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who read a poem, WH Auden’s Funeral Blues, during the service.
Ms. Dick said it had been “an enormous privilege” to take part in the “sad and poignant” ceremony. “He arrested extraordinary numbers of criminals,” she said. “But he was genuinely also a friendly face of British policing.”
Flags were flying at half-mast (staff) above New Scotland Yard to honor PC Palmer.
Before attacking PC Palmer, Masood had driven his car into crowds on Westminster Bridge, causing injuries that have resulted in four deaths.
Romanian Andreea Cristea, 31, who fell from the bridge into the River Thames, died in hospital on Thursday.
Aysha Frade, 44, who worked at a London sixth-form college, US tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, from Utah, and retired south London window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, were also killed.
Masood, 52, was shot dead by a police officer in New Palace Yard, inside the Westminster estate, after he had fatally stabbed PC Palmer. The terrorist had at least three children, one of whom had converted to Islam at his behest and was said to be living in Birmingham and wearing the burqa.
The Metropolitan Police says that the man was born in the UK as Adrian Russell Ajao – but the story appears to be more confusing still, because of a string of alternative names or aliases he used. He was entered onto the birth registry in the Dartford district of Kent as Adrian Russell Elms, in the weeks after he was born on Christmas Day 1964.
Elms was his mother’s maiden name, but two years after he was born she married a man with the name Ajao, which is a Yoruba (Nigeria) name.
“The future killer used the surnames interchangeably before he converted to Islam and became Masood,” said the BBC. “Masood had a string of previous convictions for violence and public order offences.
It appears that a change of religion came about when he spent two years teaching English in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, between 2005-6 and 2008-9 and then he made a pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj. During that time, the Pilgrims performs acts of worship and renew their sense of purpose in the world. Mecca is said to be a place that is holy to all Muslims. In fact, it is so holy, that no non-Muslim is allowed to enter. For Muslims, this is the fifth and final pillar of Islam, and for Khalid Masood, it appears that after he had been to Mecca, committing jihad had begun playing on his mind until the very day last month that he brought his brand of Islamic killing to the very heart of London.
One man, who knew Masood well, said that he came across as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character, and sadly, this had apparently caused him become intent on death and take the lives of four innocent victims, including that of PC Palmer, and in the attack, he lost his own as well.
Photo captions: 1) The cortege traveling through central London. 2) Khalid Masood. 3) PC Keith Palmer, who had served in the Metropolitan Police for 15 years, poses with tourists in Westminster. 4) Masood after being shot by a London police officer. 5) Floral tributes to the dead in Parliament Square. 6) Dan and Norma Wooding outside Strawberry Field in Liverpool.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria, West Africa, of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who then worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. He now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for some 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder/president of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books. He is currently in the UK with Norma for an Easter vacation, visiting their two sons and six grandchildren, but could resist writing up this important story.
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