PRINCE Charles described the senseless killing of hero cop Sergeant Matt Ratana as "heartbreaking" and "dreadful".
The Prince of Wales led tributes to fallen police officers on National Police Memorial Day (NPMD) in a video address from Birkhall, in Scotland.
The annual remembrance service has been held virtually for the first time in its 17-year history due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It comes two days after the death of Sgt Ratana, who was killed by a handcuffed suspect at Croydon Custody Centre in the early hours of Friday.
Prince Charles, 71, said: "This year, as a nation, we have been challenged in ways we could never have anticipated.
"We have faced an unseen, but deadly threat amid disrupted and ever-changing circumstances.
"However, throughout all the uncertainty, we have learned as never before to value those things of which we can always be certain – such as the steadfast dedication to duty of our police forces throughout the United Kingdom.
"Our officers have met this invisible threat with visible courage and commitment, providing the calm reassurance that has been so essential to our communities day and night.
"That such extraordinary commitment should so often be taken for granted is a measure of how we have come to expect nothing less than the highest standards from our officers, and shows why our police forces have earned the admiration of the world.
"While, sadly, we cannot gather in the usual manner to mark this special day of remembrance, we can all take a moment to honour those who have paid the ultimate price and who have given their lives in the service of others.
"I particularly wish to remember those officers who have so tragically lost their lives since we met in Glasgow last year.
"The dreadful incident in Croydon on Friday is the latest heartbreaking evidence of the risks faced by our officers daily.
"I would like to send my deepest sympathy to the families of each of these
officers who have given their lives. These are losses we can never replace, sacrifices we can never repay, but of which, as a society, we can only strive to be worthy.
"We owe our police service and its remarkable officers the most profound
debt of gratitude for their continued, selfless commitment and dedication to the protection of our communities.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that this day provides at least some comfort to those who have lost their loved ones, and that it provides reassurance that their example will leave a legacy of inspiration.
"I can only say to all the families, friends and colleagues of fallen officers – and to every serving officer throughout the United Kingdom – that you and your loved ones will always have a very special place in the heart of our nation."
Investigations into Sgt Ratana's death are ongoing and tributes have poured in from friends, colleagues and local sports clubs.
He is the eighth police officer in the UK to be shot dead in the last 20 years.
It comes after colleagues, pals and rugby teammates came together earlier today together to pay tribute to the officer.
Matt has been hailed "hero" for many from the force as members of his rugby club saw him as a "father figure".
The vice-chairman of East Grinstead Rugby Club Matt Marriott said their former head coach was a "truly remarkable fellow".
A moment of silence was held this morning to honour the rugby head coach.
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