Duke of Cambridge pays respects at Anzac Day service in Auckland

The Duke of Cambridge has paid tribute to those who lost their lives in battle as he began a two-day visit to New Zealand to honour the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

William, visiting the country on behalf of the Queen, attended an Anzac Day service in Auckland on Thursday morning.

Dressed in a navy blue suit and wearing medals, he joined dignitaries and a crowd of invited guests for the ceremony on the country’s national day of remembrance.

After arriving at the city’s war memorial, William was greeted with a traditional karanga, an exchange of calls that forms part of a powhiri, a Maori welcoming ceremony.

He joined in a poignant rendition of hymn Abide With Me, with parts of it sung in the Maori language, before listening to a performance of Requiem for a Soldier and bowing his head as prayers were offered up for those who died in Christchurch and the recent Sri Lanka terrorist attack.

Giving an address, Rear Admiral James Gilmour, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said New Zealand was still coming to terms with the mosque shootings.

“As a nation, we are still grieving the loss and the fact that this happened,” he said.

The duke laid a wreath at the cenotaph before Ms Ardern and Auckland mayor Phil Goff did the same.

He joined the crowd in pausing for a minute’s silence ahead of the national anthems of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

William, travelling without the Duchess of Cambridge or his three children, is due to head to Christchurch for the second part of his trip to meet with those affected by last month’s mosque shootings.

The Duke of Cambridge at the Auckland Anzac Day Civic Service
The Duke of Cambridge at the Auckland Anzac Day Civic Service with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Mark Tantrum/New Zealand Government/PA)

His visit comes at the request of Ms Ardern after 50 people were killed and dozens others wounded in the attacks on two mosques during Friday prayers on March 15.

He is expected to meet survivors and their families, the first responders who dealt with the aftermath and Muslim community leaders during his short trip.

It is not the first time William has visited Christchurch in the wake of a tragedy, with the duke also travelling to the country following a devastating earthquake in 2011.

Ms Ardern, who has been praised worldwide for her handling of the mosque attacks, said she believed this visit would “bring comfort” to the people affected.

“The duke has a close connection with New Zealand and in particular Christchurch,” she said.

“His visit provides the opportunity to pay tribute to those affected by the mosque terrorist attacks and show support to the local and national community.

“We welcome this visit by His Royal Highness and know it will bring comfort to those affected.”

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