The family of a pensioner mown down and killed by a police motorcycle escorting the Duchess of Edinburgh have insisted they don’t blame Sophie for the tragedy – as they laid the blame squarely with police.
Helen Holland, 81, clung on to life for nearly two weeks before the agonising decision was made to turn off her life support machine on Tuesday.
She had suffered massive brain trauma, as well as broken bones and internal injuries, after being flung 40ft down the busy road in west London as Sophie, 58, left a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
During a visit to the scene of the tragedy, Mrs Holland’s grieving son Martin sought to show his support for Sophie, as he declared: ‘It’s not Sophie’s fault. We don’t blame her – the police did it.’
The heartbroken 57-year-old added: ‘This is not anti-royal, no way. My mother loved the royals.’
Mr Holland, a project director for a building firm, has been calling for reforms to police escorts since the horrifying collision.
He said: ‘It’s outriders going at high speed to stop traffic at lights [before the VIP sweeps through]. They’ve got to think of a better way.
Dorothy, the 88-year-old sister of Helen Holland, with Helen’s daughter-in-law Lisa-Marie placing flowers on West Cromwell Road in west London, where her younger sister was hit by a police motorbike escorting the Duchess of Edinburgh
Mrs Holland died after being hit by a police motorcycle escorting the Duchess of Edinburgh through Earl’s Court
Mrs Holland clung on to life for nearly two weeks before the agonising decision was made to turn off her life support machine on Tuesday
Mrs Holland’s grieving son Martin sought to show his support for Sophie Wessex, the Duchess of Edingburgh, as he declared: ‘It’s not Sophie’s fault’
‘I know the royals need to be protected but they need to do it so it doesn’t endanger the public.’
The police bike hit Mrs Holland at a junction in Earl’s Court in west London on the afternoon of May 10. She died on Tuesday, in a revelation that ‘deeply saddened’ the Duchess of Edinburgh.
Today, Mrs Holland’s son Martin, 57, daughter-in-law Lisa, 51, and sister Dorothy, 88, paid an emotional visit to the scene of the collision.
They attached a bouquet of flowers to a lamppost by the crossing and laid a single stem in the road in memory to the beloved pensioner.
Dorothy, who Mrs Holland had been visiting before the fatal smash, said her younger sister was well aware of the risks presented by the busy three-lane route in Earl’s Court, saying: ‘She’s been here many, many times. She knew how dangerous is was.
‘She wasn’t in any hurry. She wanted to leave early because the trains were funny that day and she didn’t want to rush.
‘She was a cautious person and very conscious of the road.’
Dorothy, who didn’t want her surname to be used, revealed a police patrol car refused to take her to hospital as she struggled to hail a taxi after learning her sister was slipping away.
‘I couldn’t get a taxi so I flagged a police car down,’ she told the Mail.
Dorothy, who Mrs Holland had been visiting before the fatal smash, left a single flower on the crossing where her sister was hit by a police rider
Dorothy said her younger sister was well aware of the risks presented by the busy three-lane route in Earl’s Court. Dorothy is pictured today paying tribute to her sibling
Mrs Holland’s son Martin, daughter-in-law Lisa and sister Dorothy paid an emotional visit to the scene of the collision. Pictured: Dorothy and Lisa
Floral tributes included a note from the family urging people to report what they had seen amid an investigation by the police watchdog into the tragedy
‘I said my sister was dying and I couldn’t find a taxi. He said “We’re not a taxi service” and drove off.
‘I don’t blame them. He didn’t know who I was and I was probably incoherent. I expect I was crying at the time. I can’t remember.’
A heartbroken Mr Holland said his mother (pictured) ‘loved the royals’
In the end, she managed to get to hospital in time and held her sister’s hand during her last moments. Mr Holland and his wife were also there.
There was no contact from the Met until Wednesday this week, when an email arrived. Mr Holland is not reading it until he is with his three brothers but said the subject mentioned ‘deepest sympathies’.
The Duchess has offered her ‘deepest condolences’ to the family and is understood to be planning to speak to them privately.
Witnesses have described Mrs Holland, of Birchanger, Essex, edging into the road to peer around black screens that had been placed around a brick junction box for the Coronation a few days earlier.
However, the family are also concerned about the safety of the road in general, with Mr Holland, who is familiar with the area, describing motorbikes regularly ‘racing’ along the route.
The Mail can reveal London Mayor Sadiq Khan was quizzed about a ‘dangerous junction’ on the same road 80 yards from where Mrs Holland was hit by Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon during Mayor’s Questions in February.
In a written response, he said ‘design and modelling work is underway for the area’.
The police bike hit Mrs Holland at a junction in Earl’s Court in west London on the afternoon of May 10. She died on Tuesday. Police are pictured at the scene earlier this month
The crash occurred at a busy junction of Cromwell Road and Nevern Road on the A4 in Earl’s Court, west London, just a few minutes’ drive from Kensington Palace
Mrs Holland was ‘flung 40ft’ by the officer’s motorbike, which was escorting Sophie through west London on May 10
Ms Pidgeon said: ‘Myself and Lib Dem councillors have been calling for safety improvements on this and other junctions in Earl’s Court for a long time.
‘It is vital that plans to make these improvements are brought forward immediately.’
The Mayor’s Office has been contacted for comment.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating the circumstances that led up to the death of Mrs Holland, whose accountant husband Charles died around 20 years ago.
The mother of four, who also had ten grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, had been acting as carer to her youngest son after he suffered a stroke.
The Metropolitan Police, who are responsible for Royalty and Specialist Protection, are co-operating with the IOPC enquiry.
The officer involved has been placed in a ‘non-public-facing role’ while the investigation continues.
In the meantime, Mrs Holland’s family said they had been left ‘in limbo’ while they wait to hear when her body can be released. It remains at the nearby hospital where she was treated by doctors.
- Anyone with information is asked to contact the IOPC on 0300 303 5621 or email email@example.com