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The Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Sarah Everard’s vigil in London was legal because “she was working,” the UK police have said.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Metropolitan Police Chief Constable Cressida Dick defended Kate Middleton’s attendance at the vigil on March 13, despite previously saying that the gathering was illegal due to COVID-19.
Asked whether Middleton’s attendance was legal, she said: “I would imagine that, of course I have not asked her this question, but I think it’s worth looking at … just how strongly people felt, what she said about her attendance there,” according to the Mail Online.
Sarah Everard vigil: Was it legal for the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton to attend, asks @JustinOnWeb
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) March 31, 2021
“She’s in the course of her duties, she was working,” she added.
Dick’s comments contradict what some members of the press were reportedly told by the duchess’ representatives at Kensington Palace.
Chris Ship, royal editor at ITV, wrote on Twitter that he was told it was a “private visit.”
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) March 31, 2021
A royal source previously told The Mirror that Middleton made the “private visit after being horrified by Sarah’s tragic murder.”
“She remembers what it is like to walk alone as a young woman in London and elsewhere and like so many other women, has been thinking deeply about her experiences walking alone at night,” the source said.
The chief constable went on to say the vigil was “calm” and “social distanced” when the duchess attended in the afternoon of March 13.
Middleton laid flowers at Clapham Common park in London, where hundreds gathered to pay their respects to Everard, who went missing after walking home from a friend’s house on March 3.
The Duchess of Cambridge has paid her respects to Sarah Everard at Clapham Common bandstand pic.twitter.com/fOCDsV8SuR
— Thomas Newton (@SkyTNewton) March 13, 2021
Police officer Wayne Couzens was arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder in the days following. Human remains found in a nearby woodland area were later identified as Everard’s on March 13, the same day that the vigil was held.
Couzens was later charged with Everard’s kidnapping and murder, and is due to stand trial later this year.
Reclaim These Streets, the group who originally organized the vigil, said it had canceled the event after being warned by police that it wouldn’t be safe, Insider’s Sophia Ankel previously reported.
Despite this, hundreds still gathered at the park’s bandstand. Police arrived later in the evening — photo and video footage from the event shows officers shoving women and arresting them.
A police watchdog report released after the event defended the police’s actions, saying officers were “calm and professional” and “did their best to peacefully disperse the crowd.”
Kensington Palace did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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