Sophie 'deeply saddened' after woman killed by her police escort

Duchess of Edinburgh says she is ‘deeply saddened’ by death of great-grandmother, 81, who died two weeks after she was hit by Sophie’s police escort

  • Motorbike collided with Helen Holland, 81, from Essex, in west London on May 10

The Duchess of Edinburgh is ‘deeply saddened’ by the death of a great-grandmother who died two weeks after being hit by a motorbike from the royal’s police escort.

Helen Holland, 81, from Birchanger, Essex, died yesterday after the vehicle collided into her at around 3.21pm at the junction of Cromwell Road and Warwick Road in Earl’s Court, west London, on May 10. 

Ms Holland’s son Martin told the BBC she died after sustaining ‘multiple broken bones and massive internal injuries’, adding that she had used the ‘safe route’ by crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing next to traffic lights.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said today: ‘The Duchess of Edinburgh is deeply saddened to hear that Helen Holland has passed away. 

‘Her Royal Highness’s deepest condolences and sympathies go to all of Ms Holland’s family.’ 

It is understood Sophie will be in touch privately with Ms Holland’s relatives. 

It comes after friends and loved ones yesterday paid tributes to the ‘kind and joyful spirit’ who was ‘taken before her time’, while the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) continues an independent probe into the crash.

The Duchess of Edinburgh is ‘deeply saddened’ by the death of a great-grandmother who was fatally hit by a motorbike that was part of the royal’s police escort following the King’s Coronation (Pictured: Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London on May 9 as part of the Coronation celebrations) 

Helen Holland (pictured), 81, from Essex, who was hit by a police motorcycle escorting Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh died yesterday after fighting for her life for two weeks

The crash occurred on a busy junction of Cromwell Road and Nevern Road on the A4 in Earl’s Court, west London, a just a few minutes’ drive from Kensington Palace

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Prince Andrew was seen riding alongside his younger brother Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh

Speaking yesterday, Ms Holland’s family told the BBC: ‘She fought for her life for nearly two weeks… but irreversible damage to her brain finally ended the battle today.’

Ms Holland’s grandson, Joe Strutter Holland, wrote on Facebook about the death of his grandmother.

He said: ‘Rest in peace Nanny (Helen) Holland. One of the kindest and most joyful souls you’ll ever of had the pleasure of meeting. Taken before her time.’

He added that he was grateful his son and Ms Holland got to meet, continuing: ‘I’ll ensure he knows who you are, till we meet again’.

After the accident, her family previously said the great-grandmother was in a coma and police confirmed that on May 19 that she remained in critical condition. 

An eyewitness said Ms Holland was ‘thrown 40 feet across the road’ after being struck by a motorbike. 

Family members described Ms Holland, who was in London visiting her sister at the time of the crash, as a ‘beautiful, loving, kind and caring lady who would always put anyone before herself’, in a statement shared with Sky News after the crash.

Ms Holland’s family were said at the time to be ‘deeply saddened and shocked’ by the news she had been so seriously injured in the collision.

They stated at the time: ‘Helen may be 81 years old but she is sprightly for her age and nothing stopped her living life to the full, spending precious time with her family, muddy walks with the dogs and lunches with friends is what she enjoyed most.’

Ms Holland, a mother-of-four, grandmother-of-ten and great-grandmother of seven, was also described as a ‘well-respected and popular’ member of the community.

Her family added: ‘The outpour of love and support the family have received from those that know her is hugely appreciated.

‘We are all praying for a miracle and ask that you keep her in your thoughts and prayers too.’

Buckingham Palace released a statement on May 11 saying the Duchess of Edinburgh was ‘grateful for the swift response of emergency services and will keep abreast of developments’.

They added that the Duchess’s ‘heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the injured lady and her family’ and said that further comments would not be appropriate while the investigation is ongoing.

Locals claimed that black screens placed around a square brick electricity unit (pictured) close to the crossing, as part of attempts to ‘decorate’ the area for the Coronation, meant pedestrians were unable to see oncoming traffic

Ms Holland was ‘flung 40ft’ by the officer’s motorbike, which was escorting Sophie through West London on May 10

Road closures were in place in West Cromwell Road near Earl’s Court in West London. One of the screens used to ‘decorate’ the area can be seen here in the road as well as a SEG (Special Escort Group) police bike

Eyewitness Martin Hennessy, 62, claimed that black screens placed around a square brick electricity unit close to the crossing, as part of attempts to ‘decorate’ the area for the Coronation, meant pedestrians were unable to see oncoming traffic.

He told MailOnline after the accident: ‘This was an accident waiting to happen. The screens had been put up for the coronation, but it meant that you had to step out a bit into the road to see any traffic.

‘I was there soon after it happened and it was carnage. The poor lady was flung about 40ft along the road and paramedics were attending to her. 

‘She stepped out a bit to peer around the screens and was hit.’

He added: ‘There have been a lot of near misses there recently because of those screens but getting across that road is dangerous at the best of times because it’s so busy.’ 

Police said the IPOC’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.   

In a statement, Chief Superintendent Richard Smith, head of Royalty and Specialist Protection said: ‘On Tuesday we received the sad news that a woman who was injured in a collision with a police motorcycle on 10 May, in west London, had died in hospital.

‘Police officers come to work to serve the public and keep people safe and this tragic outcome is being felt by colleagues across the Met. Our thoughts are very much with the woman’s family and loved ones at this sad time.

‘Officers know that their actions, both on and off duty, are open to scrutiny and following our referral of the incident, the IOPC launched an independent investigation – we continue to co-operate with and support that enquiry.’

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