Though public mourning has long been a part of Kate Middleton’s official duties as a senior royal, the duchess was acting as a private citizen over the weekend when she visited a memorial to Sarah Everard. On Wednesday, the 33-year-old marketing executive’s body was found in Kent woodlands after a week-long search. Everard disappeared while walking home from a friends’ house, and a police officer has been charged with her kidnapping and murder. The duchess laid flowers at Clapham Commons, near where Everard was last seen, on Saturday afternoon, wearing a Barbour jacket and boots. A bystander told the Telegraph that Kate “looked quite upset and emotional.”
In a statement, Kensington Palace said that Kate’s visit was a personal decision because the story “struck a chord” with her. “The duchess wanted to pay her respects to Sarah and her family,” it read. “She remembers what it felt like to walk around London at night before she got married.” According to Town and Country, Kate laid a bouquet of daffodils that she picked from the palace gardens herself and stayed to read some of the notes left at the memorial by others.
Kate’s unannounced visit took place just a few hours after a 48-year-old Met Police officer was charged in Everard’s kidnap and death. Hours later, a vigil for Everard began in the commons. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a previously scheduled vigil had been canceled, but many people gathered despite the threat of onerous fines, and footage of police clashes with protesters later went viral. Evarard’s death has sparked national outrage partly because she was abducted from a well-lit, densely populated part of London, leading women to share stories about their experiences with street harassment, stalking, and assault.
Though Kate might not have intended to make a political statement, the Telegraph pointed out that various legislative proposals are already being discussed in response to Everard’s death. In a Monday interview, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the footage from Saturday was “distressing” and said he would ensure women were listened to in the aftermath. “The reality is that the country is united still in shock and grief about what happened to Sarah Everard,” he said, “and we must do everything we can to find the answers.”
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