Duchess of Cambridge pays tribute at memorial site for Sarah Everard

The Duchess of Cambridge has joined people paying tribute to Sarah Everard, laying flowers at a memorial site on Clapham Common.

Kensington Palace said Kate had joined hundreds of people on the common because she "wanted to pay her respects to the family and to Sarah".

"She remembers what is was like to walk around London at night before she was married," the palace added.

The visit was not announced ahead of time and there were no official photographs taken.

Reclaim These Streets had hoped to hold a vigil on the common to honour 33-year-old Ms Everard on Saturday evening, but it was cancelled following discussions with police who said it risked breaching lockdown rules.

People are instead being encouraged to shine a light on their doorstep at 9.30pm, but hundreds turned up at the common regardless.

Organiser Anna Birley said: "There are so many people here... And had we been able to run this event in collaboration and working closely with the police, we'd have had stewards on site, we'd have had people enforcing COVID-safe measures... And it's just so disappointing to see crowds congregating with none of that in place."

The group has also set up a fundraising page, which had raised more than £353,000 by 7.30pm. Proceeds will go to women's charitable causes.

Sky correspondent Emma Birchley, reporting from the memorial, said: "The Duchess of Cambridge clearly felt that, like many here, she had to come and read the messages that had been left.

"The organisers had decided this morning to cancel the vigil because they couldn't get the permission they needed from the Met Police because of the coronavirus rules."

Birchley added: "Instead they had urged people to light candles tonight on their doorsteps and they were hoping it would mean there wouldn't be any issue with people gathering.

"But people clearly felt the need to come and there's a real sense of sombreness here, people standing just looking at the displays, and you look around and see people weeping."

She said a minute's silence was held at 6pm, then a round of applause, before people were asked to return home.

Footage posted to social media showed a tussle between Metropolitan Police officers and some of the crowd in Clapham Common, who could be heard shouting "shame on you".

A High Court judge had refused on Friday to intervene on behalf of Reclaim These Streets over their bid to gather at the common.

The group said it had made "many suggestions" to police about how the vigil could go ahead safely but they had been told they risked a £10,000 fine for each woman organising the event.

Vigils had been planned in other parts of the UK, such as York, Coventry, and Birmingham, as well and a number of police forces in those areas had also discouraged people from gathering.

Commander Catherine Roper, Met Police lead for community engagement, had said the force took "no joy" in the cancellation of the Clapham vigil but insisted it was the "right thing to do".

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that almost 20,000 people responded over a period of 24 hours to a consultation on how the government could tackle violence against women and girls.

"That is completely unprecedented and we will carefully consider responses," she tweeted.

Ms Everard, a marketing executive, went missing while walking home across Clapham Common earlier this month and was later found dead in a woodland in Kent.

Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, appeared in person before Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday charged with her kidnap and murder.