Saturday, March 19, 2011

Prince William gives a speech during a memorial service in Christchurch, New Zealand

Prince William gives a speech during a memorial service in Christchurch, New Zealand

18th March 2011
Prince William today urged the earthquake-stricken city of Christchurch to "be strong".

In a speech to tens of thousands of people at a memorial service in the city, The Prince told the crowd they were an "inspiration to all people".

Prince William is on a tour of disaster-stricken areas of New Zealand and Australia on behalf of The Queen.

He has seen firsthand the damage to the centre of Christchurch, which was hit by an earthquake in February and also met rescue workers and volunteers.

After a visit to the town of Sumner, which was badly hit by the quake, The Prince attended the National Christchurch Memorial Service in the city.

While some feared people would stay away, the city's Hagley Park was packed with tens of thousands of well-wishers.

At the start of the service the crowd watched a 14-minute video showing the damage caused by the earthquake.

Stages set up in the park were decorated with flowers meant for the Ellerslie International Flower Show, due to happen in Christchurch in March, which was cancelled after the quake.

Prince William, who donned a Korowai - a traditional Maori feathered cloak - was welcomed by Henare Rakiihia Tau, from the Ngai Tuahuriri sub-tribe, who in a speech to the gathered crowd, told William to "nibble at the apple and be fruitful".

In his own address, Prince William said he was conveying his own message, as
well as one from his grandmother.

Referring to a message sent from The Queen to the people of New York after the events of September 11th, he said: "My grandmother once said that grief is the price we pay for love.

"Here, today, we love, and we grieve.

"We honour the lives and memories of all those who did not survive the earthquake - New Zealanders, and those from many countries around the world who came to this city as visitors, or to make it their home.

"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families, wherever they may
The Prince told the crowd it was hard for them to "grasp the degree of admiration - indeed, awe", with which they were regarded by the rest of the world.

He also told the people they could appreciate more than anyone else the "full horror" of what was unfolding in Japan.

He said: "Courage and understated determination have always been the hallmark of New Zealanders, of Cantabrians. "These things the world has long known.

"But to see them so starkly demonstrated over these terrible, painful months has been humbling.

"Put simply, you are an inspiration to all people. I count myself enormously privileged to be here to tell you that.
"In the last two days, I have heard tales of great tragedy - but also of extraordinary bravery and selfless courage.

"Throughout, one phrase unites them all. With The Queen's heartfelt good wishes, and those of The Prince of Wales and other members of my family, I say it to you now: 'Kia kaha.' Be strong."

The Prince's address was greeted with applause from the crowd, some of whom were sporting T-shirts reading: "Kia kaha".

Earlier in the day, William was greeted by thousands of well wishers as he visited Sumner, taking time to hear their own personal stories from the February quake.

The seaside town was badly hit by the quake - the most obvious sign of the damage is a huge boulder that fell from the cliff, narrowly missing the Returned Services Association (RSA) building.

Three people are believed to have died in the picturesque town, with many houses left uninhabitable.

But the Royal visit sparked excitement in the town today, lifting the mood of many who struggled with the after-effects of the quake.

The Prince met firefighters who helped in the aftermath of the quake, including Chief Fire Officer Alan Kerr, who said: "It's a great lift, there were people walking around with long faces and all of a sudden there's this big boost."

Marnie Kent, 43, a team leader of the Conservation Volunteers, presented The Prince with a painting of two birds.

She said: "It was a token to say thank you for coming all this way and picking up our spirits.

"I am very passionate about my paintings, I don't give them away, I don't even sell them.

"I could not think of anyone better to have the painting."

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