William meets police and medics first on scene of Christchurch terror attack
The Duke of Cambridge has been given an insight into how the Christchurch mosque attacks unfolded as he met with some of the officers and medics who were among the first on the scene.
William, in New Zealand on a two-day trip on behalf of the Queen, visited the city’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct as he arrived in Christchurch, where he was met by New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush.
Mr Bush introduced the duke to several officers, first responders and medics from St John Ambulance who helped deal with the devastating aftermath of the shootings, some of whom were on scene just minutes after the first shots were fired.
William, greeting them warmly, asked about how the response was co-ordinated and questioned how they had put their training into practice in a real-life situation.
“Nothing really trains you for seeing it in real life”, concluded the duke, who spent time as a pilot with the air ambulance service in East Anglia.
“I’m sure the team pulls together,” he said.
The duke also asked how quickly officers and medical staff had arrived at the scene, and how quickly the attacks unfolded.
At the police headquarters, dozens of messages from the people of Christchurch – young and old alike – thanking the officers for keeping them safe in the wake of the shootings, grace the corridors.
Among them is a card signed by Sadie, which reads: “Thank you for helping to save all the people in the church. I think you’re all very brave.”
Another says: “You never give up and you never ever will give up trying to save NZ.”
A total of 50 people were killed and dozens more were wounded when a gunman opened fire during Friday prayers on March 15.
William is due to meet with survivors and their families, as well as Muslim community leaders as part of his visit.
He began his trip in Auckland on Thursday, where he attended an Anzac Day memorial service.
The devastation of the shootings is still keenly felt across the country and was reflected on during the service at the city’s war memorial.
“As a nation, we are still grieving for the loss,” said Rear Admiral James Gilmour, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
William, travelling without the Duchess of Cambridge or his three children, is visiting New Zealand at the request of prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
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 the duke had a “close connection” with New Zealand and Christchurch in particular.
“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,” she said.
“We welcome this visit by His Royal Highness and know it will bring comfort to those affected.”