Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Prince William visits five-year-old survivor of Christchurch terror attack just days after she wakes from coma

Prince William has met a five-year-old survivor of the Christchurch mosque attacks during a two-day trip to New Zealand on behalf of the Queen.

The Duke of Cambridge visited Alen Alsati who was injured in the terrorist attack and only awoke from a coma earlier this week.

The little girl quizzed the Duke on whether he had a daughter and what her name was, to which he replied: "Yeah, she's called Charlotte, she's about the same age as you."

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

The youngster is recovering at Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland.

Alen's father, Wasseim, was also hurt in the shootings.

Prince William meets St John Ambulance and Police staff. Credit: Pool/AP

On the first day of his visit to the country, Prince William also met police and medics who were among the first on the scene of the devastating mosque attacks which left 50 people dead and dozens more wounded, and offered his support as a "good friend" of New Zealand.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the "emotion was palpable" as the Duke discovered more about how the shootings at two mosques unfolded.

"If I could use the words he used to our staff, 'a good friend doesn't pick up the phone when a person is in need - they travel to their place and put their arms around them'," he said.

Mr Bush said William was concerned with checking how those involved in the response were coping more than a month on from the tragedy.

"He was conscious about them needing to take care of themselves," he added.

"His main piece of advice was to talk to each other, to not bottle things up - to support each other to talk about what they saw and what they do afterwards.

"There was a moment with all the first responders (where he was) just telling them how important their job was but also the importance of looking after themselves.

"When he said he was there to put his arms around us as a friend and offer support, that really had an impact on us."

Mr Bush added that it was good to know that "people as important as his royal highness really care about people who have to deal with such tragedies and those people who put their lives on the line to save others".

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

William also asked those gathered 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.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

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 which 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.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder over the attacks.

William is due to meet with survivors and their families, as well as Muslim community leaders as part of his visit.

William lays a wreath at an Anzac Day memorial service. Credit: AP

The 36-year-old began his trip in Auckland on Thursday, where he attended an Anzac Day memorial service.

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) in World War One.

After arriving at the city’s war memorial, he 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.

The Duke laid a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the Queen, before Prime Minister Jacinda 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.

The devastation of the Christchurch 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.

Describing the attacks as a “cruel nightmare”, he offered up prayers for the Christchurch community.

Crowds gather at the Auckland war memorial. Credit: PA

William, travelling without the Duchess of Cambridge or his three children, is visiting New Zealand at the request of Ms Ardern.

The Prime Minister greeted the Duke with a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting.

As a Commonwealth country, the Queen is the head of state in New Zealand.

The Duke of Cambridge shared a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Credit: New Zealand Government/PA

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.”