The Duke of Cambridge was greeted with a traditional Maori nose rub from New Zealand’s prime minister as he visited a country still coming terms with the devastating mosque shootings.
William, visiting the country on behalf of the Queen, performed the intimate greeting – known as a hongi – as he was warmly welcomed in Auckland by Jacinda Ardern.
He began his two-day visit by attending an Anzac Day memorial service and will complete his trip in Christchurch to honour those affected by last month’s terrorist attack.
On #AnzacDay The Duke of Cambridge attended the Civic Service at @AucklandMuseum in New Zealand, as we remember the servicemen and women of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who have served their nation in times of war. #LestWeForget pic.twitter.com/84uwXxgYq1
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 25, 2019
Ms Ardern has said his visit will “bring comfort” to the people of New Zealand.
The devastation of the shootings at two mosques during Friday prayers is still keenly felt in the country and was reflected on during the service at Auckland’s war memorial.
“As a nation, we are still grieving for the loss,” said Rear Admiral James Gilmour, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
Describing the attacks as a “cruel nightmare”, he offered prayers for the Christchurch community.
William, dressed in a navy blue suit and wearing medals, joined dignitaries and a crowd of invited guests for the ceremony on the country’s national day of remembrance.
He was greeted at the service with a traditional karanga, an exchange of calls that forms part of a powhiri, a Maori welcoming ceremony.
After a poignant rendition of Abide With Me, with parts of the hymn sung in the Maori language, the duke listened to a performance of Requiem For A Soldier.
He also laid a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the Queen and joined the crowd in pausing for a minute’s silence ahead of the national anthems of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
After the end of the service, William privately met four-year-old Alen Alsati and her father Wasseim at Starship Children’s Hospital.
Both were injured in the shootings and Alen woke from a coma earlier this week.