Prince William meets shooting victims at Al Noor Mosque: 'Hate will fail to divide us'
26 April 2019
Prince William wrapped up his two-day visit of New Zealand with a walk-about meeting members of the public in Christchurch.
The Duke of Cambridge visited Christchurch at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's invitation to express the royal family's solidarity with the victims of the terror shooting, which left 50 people dead in two of the city's mosques.
He spent the day in Christchurch meeting with mosque victims, including visits to both the Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
About 300 people turned out to see the Duke of Cambridge for his walkabout which was the only public event of his tour, and security arrangements have meant most of his events have not been publicised.
In his last event of the visit the Duke placed a wreath at the Dedication Panel, Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial.
Prince William, in a speech to survivors of the 15 March mosque attacks, says the world's moral compass shifted to Christchurch with the response.
On the second day of his visit, the prince met with about 160 survivors and family members of the victims at Al Noor Mosque - one of those attacked - and said he could hardly believe the news he was waking up to on 15 March.
Preceded by a large contingent of police and watched overhead by the police eagle helicopter, he arrived at Al Noor Mosque with Ms Ardern, Imam of the mosque Gamal Fouda, Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Megan Woods and Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel greeting him just inside the gates.
Prince William is greeted at the gates by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ/Katie Todd
In a prepared speech which he began in te reo Māori, he said that in the grief that followed, deep wells of empathy, compassion and warmth revealed the true face of New Zealand, teaching the world that the forces of love will prevail over the forces of hate.
"On the 15th of March, tragedy unfolded in this room. A terrorist attempted to sow division and hatred in a place that stands for togetherness and selflessness.
"When I woke up in London on the morning of the 15th of March. I could not believe the news, an act of unspeakable hate had unfolded in New Zealand, a country of peace. And it had unfolded in Christchurch, a city that has endured so much more than its fair share of hardship. When it was confirmed that 50 New Zealand Muslims had been killed, murdered while peacefully worshipping, again I just could not believe the news.
"What I have known of New Zealanders from the earliest moments in my life is that you are a people that look out to the world with optimism. You have a famous strength of character, you have a warm hearted interest, about cultures, religion and people thousands of miles from your shores. You acknowledge, debate and grapple with your own cultural history in a way that has not other parallel in any other nation."
Christchurch and New Zealand's response to the shooting was an example to inspire the world, he said.
"The global idealism of hate will fail to divide us.
"In a moment of acute pain, you stood up, and you stood together. In reaction to tragedy, you showed something remarkable. I have had reasons myself to reflect on grief and sudden pain, and loss in my own life. In my role I have often seen up close the sorrow of others in moments of tragedy, as I have today.
"What I realise is that of course, grief can change your outlook, you don't ever forget the shock, the sadness and the pain. But I do not believe that grief changes who you are. Grief, if you let it, will reveal who you are. It can reveal depths that you did not know you had. The startling weight of grief can burst any bubble of complacency and how you live your life. It can help you to live up to the values you espouse.
"This is exactly what happened here in Christchurch on the 15th of March."
The Duke of Cambridge meets Farid Ahmad, who lost his wife in the Christchurch mosque attack. Photo: Supplied / Kensington Palace
New Zealand had showed how deep its wells of compassion and warm-heartedness ran, he said.
"You started showing what New Zealand really was, almost immediately. On the road outside these walls, people pulled their cars over and started caring for the victims even when they did not know if it was safe to do so.
"Your neighbours opened their doors as they were fleeing the violence. Your first responders apprehended the killer and immediately worked to save lives in the most challenging of circumstances.
"In the days that followed, thousands of bouquets of flowers filled public spaces in the city, brightening the darkest of moments."
He acknowledged Ms Ardern, saying she showed extraordinary leadership of compassion and resolve, and said Imam Al Fouda had displayed almost unthinkable wisdom and grace "given what you witnessed with your own eyes".
"Your words in the days after the attack moved the world. Your reminder that the victims needed to be remembered both as Muslims and as New Zealanders showed that grief revealed you to be a man of great wisdom."
Farid Ahmed, whose wife Husna Ahmed died at the Al Noor Mosque, spoke before Prince William saying "we have to keep up hope and not surrender to hatred".
After the speeches the media were asked to leave and Prince William went around the room to meet families.
As it happened: Prince William visits Christchurch
26 April 2019
Prince William met with about 160 survivors of the mosque attacks in Christchurch this morning [26 April], on his second day in the country.
Proceeded by a large contingent of police and watched overhead by the police eagle helicopter, the Duke of Cambridge arrived at Al Noor Mosque.
Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, Imam of Masjid Al Noor Gamal Fouda, Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Megan Woods and Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel greeted him just inside the gates.
About two dozen members of the public and a large number of media watched his arrival from over the road.
What you need to know:
• Prince William has visited Christchurch
Hospital and is now visiting Al Noor Mosque. He will also
visit Linwood Mosque and lay a wreath at the Earthquake
National Memorial. The public will have a chance to meet
Prince William after the wreath laying when he takes a short
walkabout across the North Bank reflection area.
• Yesterday [25 April] Prince William attended the 11am Anzac Day service at the Auckland War Memorial. He later flew to Christchurch where he visited the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct and met Commissioner of New Zealand Police Mike Bush and Superintendent District Commander Canterbury John Price.
• His visit is focused on the royal family's support in the aftermath of the 15 March mosque shootings.