William to visit New Zealand to honour victims of mosques shootings

By Tony Jones, Press Association Court Correspondent

The Duke of Cambridge will visit New Zealand for two days later this month on behalf of the Queen to honour the victims of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack.

William will begin his visit, which is at the request of New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, in Auckland on April 25, before travelling to Christchurch where 50 people were killed in the shootings.

In Christchurch, the duke will meet survivors of the attack and their families, members of the emergency services, and Muslim community leaders.

Kensington Palace said: “During the visit, the duke will pay tribute to those affected by the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack, and will recognise the incredible empathy and unity displayed by the people of New Zealand in the weeks that followed.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George previously visited New Zealand (Anthony Delvin/PA)

William visited New Zealand following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, and with wife Kate carried out a tour of the country in 2014, taking nine-month-old Prince George with them.

The monarch, who is Queen of New Zealand, and other senior royals sent heartfelt messages of condolence following the shootings at the two mosques in March.

The Queen said she and the Duke and Edinburgh had been “saddened by the appalling events”.

The Prince of Wales showed solidarity with New Zealanders, saying: “This appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom, tolerance, compassion and community.”

And in a joint message, William, Kate and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “We have all been fortunate to spend time in Christchurch and have felt the warm, open-hearted and generous spirit that is core to its remarkable people.

“No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship.”

Harry and heavily-pregnant Meghan told New Zealanders “we are with you” when they signed a book of condolence at New Zealand House in London.

A 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged over the attacks.