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William lays wreath as victim's wife attends Westminster service in wheelchair


The service is taking place at Westminster Abbey

The service is taking place at Westminster Abbey

The service is taking place at Westminster Abbey

The injured wife of a man killed in the Westminster terror attack has been joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at a service for families and survivors.

Around 1,800 people gathered at Westminster Abbey for the Service of Hope, two weeks on from Khalid Masood's murderous rampage.

Melissa Cochran, from Utah, who lost her husband Kurt, 54, in the attack, arrived at the service in a wheelchair.

The couple had been celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in London when they were caught up in the carnage, with Mrs Cochran suffering a broken leg and rib and a cut head.

Five people, including terrorist Masood, were killed and dozens of others injured in the 82-second atrocity on Wednesday March 22.

Mr Cochran, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, and Aysha Frade, 44, died when the Muslim convert drove at pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

The 52-year-old attacker was shot dead by armed police after fatally stabbing Pc Keith Palmer, 48, in the Palace of Westminster's cobbled forecourt.

The Duke laid a wreath of spring flowers, including red and white roses and gerbera, at the Innocent Victims memorial outside the abbey in central London as the royals arrived on Wednesday.

A card on the wreath, signed by William, read: "In memory of the innocent lives; lost to us all on the 22nd March, 2017."

He gave a Bible reading from Luke, Chapter 10, about the Good Samaritan, while Home Secretary Amber Rudd read from Jeremiah.

Witnesses and members of the emergency services involved in the response effort were also among the congregation for the service - held just minutes from where the attack unfolded.

William, Kate and Harry were greeted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner Craig Mackey before processing down the aisle, where emergency services personnel lined the front row.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Commons Speaker John Bercow were seen taking a seat at the service.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev John Hall, who led the service, told the congregation: "We are all affected by the attack a fortnight ago on Westminster Bridge and at the gates of the Palace of Westminster, and we are all left bewildered and disturbed.

"But our sense of loss and diminishment is paled by comparison with that of the families of those who died: Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran and Leslie Rhodes on the bridge, and Police Constable Keith Palmer on duty at the gates of Parliament, and all those who were injured.

"Our hearts go out to them in sympathy and prayer and love."

Dr Hall continued: "What happened a fortnight ago leaves us bewildered.

"What could possibly motivate a man to hire a car and take it from Birmingham to Brighton to London, and then drive it fast at people he had never met, couldn't possibly know, against whom he had no personal grudge, no reason to hate them and then run at the gates of the Palace of Westminster to cause another death? It seems likely that we shall never know.

"No doubt it was in imitation of the attacks in Nice and Berlin. But what on earth did he hope to achieve? Such random acts of aggression are nothing new."

In a poignant moment of reflection - The Act of Commitment - candles were lit while the choir sang.

Each member of the congregation clutched a single candle as prayers were read by those of all faiths, including Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger and Mr Khan.

William, Kate and Harry met in private with some members of the congregation, including the families of the victims and survivors of the attack.

The royal trio also met first responders, many from the Metropolitan Police, as well as ambassadors from the countries caught up in the attack.

US ambassador Lewis Lukens and Romanian ambassador Dan Mihalache were among those who gathered in the Deanery drawing room at the Abbey following the service.

Harry could be heard discussing the importance of receiving support after being involved in such an incident.

"As long as you guys are getting the right support," he said to a group of police officers.

James Southgate, a sergeant based in Lambeth, said Harry had spoken to them about safeguarding their mental health.

He said: "He talked to us about occupational health, mental health and sort of making sure that we look after ourselves with regard to counselling.

"And just thanking us for our hard work and arriving so promptly."