Prince of Wales attends unveiling of police memorial

HRH The Prince of Wales attended a ceremony to unveil the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum today.

The memorial honours those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while on duty protecting their communities.

Among the invited guests at the ceremony was Gwent Chief Constable Pam Kelly, who laid a wreath, and Community Support Officer Jenny Mullis. Gwent Police Federation secretary Annalea Kift attended a service at Force Headquarters timed to coincide with the dedication service.

The new magnificent 12-metre-tall sculpture will act as a place for loved ones, friends, colleagues and members of the public to go to remember the officers who have been killed during the line of duty.

Addressing an audience of 400, as well as those who were watching live from home, Prince Charles said: “I pray this memorial will provide a place to pay tribute and provide reassurance that those who have given their lives will leave a lasting legacy and will never be forgotten.”

He expressed his “profound gratitude” to “those who have laid down their lives” to protect the public and paid tribute to “those who continue to serve” today.

The ceremony was also attended by Home Secretary Priti Patel and the national chair of the Police Federation, John Apter, as well as serving police officers and many families of those who have died while on duty. 

After the ceremony, John Apter said: “It’s really important the memorial - along with other memorials across the country – is recognised for what it is intended. That is to remember the supreme sacrifices colleagues have made over a great many years.

“It was an honour to have attended and to lay a wreath on behalf of the 130,000 police officers the Federation represents. This memorial will be especially important to colleagues and ensure friends and colleagues will always be remembered – they will never be forgotten.”

In a pre-recorded message, the Prime Minister said: “It takes a very special kind of person to be a police officer. When you put on that uniform, you know there’s a chance, however small that is, that you won’t be going home, yet you continue to do it anyway.”

The £4.5 million memorial follows a seven-year fundraising campaign and took 12 months to build. It was designed by Walter Jack Studio.

The sculpture is designed to look like a slightly ajar door, said to signify officers going into the unknown during their line of work on a daily basis.

Sir Hugh Orde, chair of The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, explained that it is decorated with cut-out leaves, which represent the lives of the heroic officers lost. 

During the ceremony, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) paid tribute to fallen officers by taking part in a flypast and “bowing” in front of the sculpture. 

The British Police Symphony Orchestra performed during the event, with singer Katherine Jenkins OBE closing the ceremony with the National Anthem. There was also a minute’s silence.

The event comes two months before this year’s annual National Police Memorial Day, which will be taking place on Sunday 26 September, and ahead of the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) memorial service at the arboretum on Sunday (2 August).