The visit to Sarah Everard's vigil by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was legal because it was for work, despite the gathering being deemed unlawful by police.

Metropolitan (MET) Police Commissioner Cressida Dick defended the royal who received criticism for visiting the vigil when it was supposed to have been cancelled at the last minute and moved online. The duchess also arrived at the scene without a mask on. She said the MET knew of Kate Middleton's visit and that they even took precautions not to attract unwanted attention.

"The Met did know, absolutely, but of course we take all sorts of precautions to make sure that we don't unwittingly draw attention to visits like that," Dame Dick told BBC Radio 4's "Today."

The vigil, which was held early in March at Clapham Common, drew a large crowd who paid their respects to the 33-year-old murder victim. The commissioner said the Duchess of Cambridge's visit was "legal" because "she's in the course of her duties, she was working."

"I would imagine that, of course, I have not asked her this question, but I think it's worth looking at just how strongly people felt, what she said about her attendance there," she said.

"At that point, people had a whole series of potential reasonable excuses for being away from home, we didn't all have them. I've picked out one that may apply to her but, let's be clear, there was a very calm vigil to which she attended where lots and lots of people came," the MET commissioner added.

However, many questioned why Kate Middleton's visit was deemed legal when the police treated Everard's vigil as "unlawful." Dame Dick explained that it was a peaceful vigil at first so "it was clearly possible under the law for somebody who lived locally to walk as many did and lay flowers legally." She said people who were already in the area "could have laid flowers calmly and peacefully, potentially legally."

so let me get this straight: cressida dick “would’ve attended if it was legal” in a work capacity, charity leaders etc attended “illegally” even though it could be classed as work, but kate drops by for a pr stunt (“work”) and because she’s a royal it’s “legal”? cool.

— katie (@Kaaaaatie_x) March 31, 2021

The police chief said six hours into the vigil there were no laws enforced, there was discretion, and people were allowed to carry on. But she said MET knew it would eventually turn into a mass gathering which would then become "unlawful" given the pandemic.

"We knew that it would result in a mass gathering, we knew there would be large numbers, we knew who would come, we knew it would be unlawful. I had a great deal of contact both with City Hall at the most senior levels and with senior members of the Government," Dame Dick explained adding that Everard's vigil only turned illegal around 6:00 p.m. when it turned into a "hostile rally." People refused to disperse when told to and some ended up getting arrested.

Dame Dick's statement contradicted a palace source's claim that Kate Middleton visited Everard's vigil in a "private" or personal capacity. She did not go as the Duchess of Cambridge as such there were no reporters or paparazzi around. She quietly left flowers and left. But someone managed to get her photo and shared it online, which then tipped people off about her visit.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton AFP/Getty