Prince William has joined Jacinda Ardern at Anzac commemorations in New Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.
The pair shared an intimate hongi [Māori nose press] and espoused the values of freedom, democracy, and peace where they attended a service in Auckland before travelling to Christchurch to meet with survivors.
Six weeks after a lone gunman shot 50 people dead at two Christchurch mosques, the Duke of Cambridge arrived in the city to pay his respects to and share in the city’s grief in the wake of the worst attacks in the country’s modern history.
Amid a heightened security presence at Anzac services, with dozens of services cancelled due to security risks, prime minister Ardern said the day was an important reminder to recommit to simple values and not take life – or peace – for granted.
“There is more that unites us than divides us,” Ardern said.
Prince William shares a hongi with a returned serviceman at an Anzac Day service at the Auckland War Memorial. Photograph: David Rowlands/AAP
William is visiting New Zealand on behalf of the Queen, in a visit designed to honour the victims of the March 15 attack, which has come back into the news in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka upon hotels and churches, which the Sri Lankan defence minister said may have been carried out as a reprisal for the mosque shootings.
No stranger to a city in mourning, William also visited Christchurch following the February 2011 earthquake, which claimed 185 lives.
“I’m really pleased that he can make a short visit to support those affected by the attack and pay tribute to the extraordinary compassion and solidarity that New Zealanders have displayed in recent weeks,” Ardern said of the prince’s two-day visit.
“The Duke has a close connection with New Zealand and in particular Christchurch. His visit provides the opportunity to pay tribute to those affected by the mosque terrorist attacks and show support to the local and national community.”
The Duke of Cambridge lays a wreath during an Anzac Day service at the Auckland War Memorial before travelling to Christchurch. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters
William attended the Auckland Anzac service with the prime minister before travelling to Christchurch on Thursday afternoon where he met with survivors of the terror attacks and their families, as well as first responders and the wider Muslim community.
The duke will do a public walkabout in the garden city on Friday afternoon, but otherwise there is little known about his itinerary, which is being kept under wraps for security reasons, as the country remains at medium risk of a terror attack.
There had been a significant security presence accompanying William and the visit has been without the crowds and festive atmosphere that often accompany a royal visit.
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