As tourists, we attach ourselves to symbols; that attachment connects us to a time or a place and quite possibly sorrow or an idea. For many holidaymakers, these connections represent not just our own desire to stretch out and see the world, but to take just a small piece; a memory, a photo of that place, that time or indeed of an individual.
And so it is that the area around Westminster Bridge holds so many memories of discovery, of being some place different; drinking in a culture that has spread its worth around the world.
As an Organisation, we know the area around Westminster very well. On the many occasions when we visit government departments or the Palace of Westminster, we are struck by the throngs of tourists, the sound of bagpipes, artists and street conjurers along with the joy of all Nationalities, virtually convening on one spot, to share in the mystique of what for many is the focal point of the United Kingdom.
Many times we have witnessed tourists along these streets jostle to have their pictures taken with soldiers on horseback, politicians and police officers.
Like the iconic London telephone box, the tube station sign, Big Ben and so on, the London Bobby with their distinctive police helmets, is an image replicated on many postcards, T-shirts and photographs.
As we have visited the Palace of Westminster over the years, we have been struck by how many officers there are now armed, by comparison to those present just over a decade ago; it is regrettably a sign of the fractured world we live in. Despite the presence of arms, we have often seen them perform the ordinary duties of connection; dealing with whatever enquiry, with great confidence and politeness.
In our travels around the world, particularly around Europe, whether it is the Belgian Politie, the German Polizei or the French Gendarmerie, all perform their duties with great skill and professionalism and provide, like the London Bobby, a sense of security as we travel through new places or unfamiliar territory.
And so, on the afternoon on Wednesday 22 March 2017, PC Keith Palmer, aged 48, a Father and a Husband, fell on the cobbles outside Westminster Hall and slipped away having done his duty. He leaves behind shock, horror and an immense sadness; an abyss, for his Family, Friends and Colleagues that may find no comfort.
PC Palmer, like many Police Officers around the world, are the front line between what we as citizens or as holidaymakers engage in during our daily lives and the madness of criminality. These Officers, like PC Palmer, are the equivalent of modern day Knights of old and as Citizens, as Consumers, as Holidaymakers, we should never forget, wherever we travel, the importance of their protection and their duties to us all.
So on this very sad morning, we say; Requiescat in Pace Eques Auratus - Rest in Peace Knight.