The Royals and Ground Zero: 9/11 Ten Years On
It was the moment which caused the world to stand still – 08:46 local time, September 11th, 2001, New York City. The World Trade Centre’s North Tower is hit by an American Airlines flight from Boston, en route to Los Angeles. The words “hijacking”, “terrorism” and “9/11” are from that moment forever imprinted in the minds of the world’s population.
Less than twenty minutes later, it becomes clear that this was no accident when a second aeroplane crashes into the World Trade Centre’s South Tower. Just under half an hour after the second crash, an American Airlines flight was crashed into the Pentagon, and at 10:03am, a United Airlines flight was brought down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after crew members and passengers stormed the hijacked cockpit. At 9:59am, the WTC South Tower collapsed, and the North Tower collapsed twenty-eight minutes later. All domestic flights already in the air within the US were given immediate orders to land immediately, non-airborne flights were grounded and international flights were redirected to Canada and Mexico.
2,997 people perished in the combined attacks which changed the lives of millions. Condemnation came from across the world, and assistance poured in from dozens of nations. Today in New York City, President Barack Obama will officially dedicate the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, two waterfall pools which mark the bases of where the North and South Towers once stood.
In the ten years since the attacks, various royals have visited Ground Zero during trips to New York City to pay their respects.
Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde visited Ground Zero on June 23rd, 2011 during their economic mission to the US. They placed a wreath at the site on behalf of King Albert II and Queen Paola, before touring the construction site of the new Word Trade Centre tower. They were joined by Bill Baroni, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s deputy executive director, who also showed them plans for the building.
Two days after the attack, on September 13th, Queen Elizabeth II allowed the troops performing that day’s Changing of the Guard infront of Buckingham Palace to play The Star Spangled Banner, in lieu of the traditional tune. A crowd of over 5,000, many American, lined the Palace gates and The Mall, which came to a halt for the tribute and two minutes of silence.
In November 2005, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited Ground Zero during their visit to the United States. The couple left a bouquet of orchids, lilies and roses at the site, which bore a note reading, “In enduring memory of our shared grief, Charles and Camilla.” They then met with relatives of the deceased, before visiting the British Memorial Garden dedicated to the 67 British citizens who died in the attack.
Prince Harry visited the site in May 2009, during his two-day visit to New York. The Prince left a wreath of flowers, with a note reading, “In respectful memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and in admiration of the courage shown by the people of this great city on that day,” and observed a minute of silence. Harry later met with firefighters who volunteered on 9/11.
On July 6th, 2010, Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Ground Zero after their tour of Canada. The Queen laid a wreath at the site, before she and the Duke were given an explaination of the construction of the memorial and new World Trade Centre building. While meeting with family members of victims and some of the first firefighters and police who were the first on the scene, the Queen remarked to one woman, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything in my life as bad as that,” in reference to the attacks.
Prince Albert II of Monaco, then still heir to his father, Prince Rainier III, was one of the first royals to visit Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks. His visit took place on October 23rd, 2001. Prince Albert met with then-Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, to present him with a cheque for over $500,000 the Monaquese people donated to the Monaco September 11th Solidarity Fund, to go towards victims’ families. He then toured the site of the World Trade Centre, before meeting victims’ families.
King Harald V and Queen Sonja visited Ground Zero in October 2002, during their tour of the US. Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit also visited in October 2010. They toured the construction site of the new tower, and laid a wreath at the Ground Zero site. They were also presented with a Norwegian flag after the ceremony. A Norwegian design was the one selected for the official memorial located at Ground Zero. During the visit, the Crown Prince remarked how the strongest impression upon him regarding the memorial was that pieces of the original World Trade Centre towers will be used. Haakon and Mette-Marit were on their honeymoon in Long Island at the time of the attacks.
The first royal to visit Ground Zero was Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz, the nephew of King Abdullah II. He visited on October 11th, 2001, just one month after the attacks took place.Filed under Belgian Royals, British Royals, Monaco Royals, Norwegian Royals, Saudi Royals
Tagged 9/11, Albert II of Monaco, Anniversary, Changing of the Guard, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Harald V of Norway, King Philippe of the Belgians, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Prince Harry of Wales, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, Queen Sonja of Norway, Terrorism, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, United States of America.