Amid the excitement of the royal visit, there was a moment of quiet contemplation as Prince William and Kate Middleton remembered the 185 people who died in the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011.
The royal couple stood with their heads bent as they visited the CTV Building memorial, and each laid a stone as a tribute to the Christchurch victims. The site, the headquarters of Canterbury Television, became one of the symbols of the earthquake — 115 people, more than half the earthquakes’ total casualties lost their lives then the building collapsed.
The Duke and Duchess meeting families at the CTV Building memorial site #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/g0p77IODDL
— Governor-General NZ (@GovGeneralNZ) April 13, 2014
Kate had already paid a thoughtful tribute to the people of Christchurch, choosing to wear red and black in honour of the region’s colours.
Before spending a few moments paying their respects, the couple met with some of the families of those who lost their lives in the earthquake at the CTV site. At one point, William was seen reaching out and gently touching one young boy on the shoulder as he and Kate spoke with those hit by the tragedy.
There were plenty of smiles too as the amiable couple took their time talking with those who had gathered to see them. Both young and old were instantly charmed by both William and Kate as they spent precious moments with those who had lost their loved ones.
William has a strong connection with Christchurch — he visited the city shortly after it was struck by the 6.3 earthquake three years ago and has paid tribute to the people of Christchurch many times.
After visiting the memorial, the Duke and Duchess made the short walk to the cardboard transitional cathedral in Latimer Square, which was built when Christchurch’s distinctive cathedral collapsed. There they were greeted by Reverend Lynda Patterson, Dean of Christchurch, who showed them around inside.
To the delight of the people of Christchurch, the couple then embarked on a public walk of Latimer Square. It was a chance for the local community to welcome William and Kate to the city, and people had turned out in force to greet them.
A balloon bouquet for the Duchess! #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/rbPCwgZykk
— Governor-General NZ (@GovGeneralNZ) April 14, 2014
Flags and banners lined the road as crowds tried to catch a glimpse of the new parents. Kate was showered with gifts, from bunches of flowers to a balloon bouquet, as she spoke with charmed locals, many of whom had waited up to four hours to see her.
Her husband, meanwhile, met with the next generation of New Zealanders — five sets of twins who were lined up in their buggies with their proud mums stood behind them.