Prince William attends Christchurch Earthquake Memorial

  March 18, 2011 at 1:12 am by

View the image at Getty

Earlier today, Prince William attended a national memorial service in the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch, New Zealand. He was joined by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr John Key, as well as dignitaries from neighbouring Australia.

The packed service took place at Hagley Park, which just a few weeks ago was the site of medical treatment tents following the February 22nd earthquake. The Prince was given a traditional Maori cloak of feathers – a korowai – to wear, as a mark of his position in the Royal Family. At 12:51, local time, precisely the minute the earthquake struck the city, two minutes of silence were held to honour those who did not survive the disaster. Following the silence, Prince William addressed the crowd, which included around 300 members of grieving families, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.

“I convey to you, Her Majesty’s message of deep sympathy and condolence. My grandmother once said that grief is the price we pay for love. Here today, we love, and we grieve,” he told the crowd, before adding a personal message to his speech, “Courage and understated determination have always been the hallmark of New Zealanders, of Cantabrians,” adding the people of the city were “an inspiration” to everyone. The Prince ended his speech with “Kia Kaha” – a Maori phrase meaning ‘be strong’.

VIDEO: Prince William speaks at Christchurch Memorial

Towards the end of the service, Prince William joined the dignitaries in laying floral wreaths in the victims’ memories, before he joined the crowd to speak with family members of the deceased. A total of approximately 180 people were killed by the earthquake.

View the image at Zimbio

The Prince arrived in New Zealand on March 17th, and was given a tour of a city reduced to rubble, where he spoke with members of the Urban Search and Rescue teams. He thanked them for their efforts, commending them on a “tremendous job”. Following his visit to Christchurch, Prince William travelled slightly north-west to Greymouth, where he met with families of the victims of the November 2010 Pike River mine disaster, in which 29 men were killed following several explosions inside the coal mine.

The second-in-line to the throne will travel to Australia tomorrow, to tour areas in Queensland hit by floods and Cyclone Yasi, and towns in Victoria also hit by flooding.

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