In a moment that captured the poignancy of the occasion, seven-year-old Victoria Grieves curtseyed before presenting the Duchess of Cornwall with a vibrant bouquet of flowers.
Victoria’s father Gary, a police constable in the PSNI, was killed in a road crash in Portglenone, Co Antrim as he travelled home from duty in 2010.
His daughter was among family members of fallen officers who gathered at PSNI headquarters to meet the Duchess and Prince of Wales at the official opening of a memorial paying tribute to their sacrifice.
It was 14 years since the Prince stood only yards away to open an adjoining garden commemorating the 300 Royal Ulster Constabulary officers killed during the Troubles.
Kate Carroll, whose husband Stephen was murdered by dissident republicans in Craigavon, Co Armagh in 2009, spoke with the Duchess.
Constable Carroll’s name, along with 12 others, is listed on the roll of honour on the striking Irish black limestone memorial wall.
“She just told me to keep on smiling and she said I have been brave and I said, ‘well, you have to be’,” said Mrs Carroll.
The police widow described the memorial as a “fitting tribute”.
“I think it is very comforting that you are able to come and see where your loved ones are being honoured,” she said.
“It is a nice feeling to know you can go somewhere and that they are appreciated.”
As well as serving PSNI officers and police staff, former chief constable Matt Baggott and representatives from the Irish Garda attended the ceremony.
Current PSNI chief George Hamilton said it was a day of “mixed feelings”.
“There is the pride and poignancy of the day but also the sadness of it,” he said.
“We have 13 names on the wall of this memorial garden and that is 13 devastated families and most of those families were able to join with us for this official opening.
“We were grateful too that the significance and size of the sacrifice was marked by the attendance of their royal highnesses.”