Royal Visit to Christchurch, New Zealand.
The bonnie prince William could not have arrived at a better time for Cantabrians, who have just learned that, on top of their earthquake disaster, Christchurch has lost any hope of hosting the rugby world cup which might have helped to get the place back on its feet again.
The Prince’s visit is certainly bringing some joy and encouragement to the people of Christchurch, who have, in the Mayor’s words, “not only lost loved ones, but who have lost their city”.
The Prince was greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic supporters when he arrived at Christchurch airport.
We saw him on television today, on the news at 6 P.M. TVNZ.
He had a busy schedule planned: One of the priorities for the Prince was to visit Shantytown, near Greymouth, where he met 150 people from the families of those who died in the Pike River Mine disaster.
The media were asked to leave the Prince so that he could talk privately to the families of the bereaved. This was an incredibly touching and heartfelt gesture on the part of the Prince, and it was much appreciated by all.
He went down to meet the fire officers who had worked so hard to put the fire out in the mine after the explosion. One officer said: “For Will to turn up at our little fire station was really tremendous”.
The local Mayor said in his address to the Prince, that it meant so much to have a visit from the Prince, that “the Prince knows what it is like to lose a loved one. You lost your Mum, the Princess Diana”.
The Mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, said that for the Prince to be here right now, at such a dangerous time, is tremendous, and it will never ever be forgotten.
The Prince expressed his sympathy for the Christchurch people, and said that the “scale of devastation was unbelievable”.
Tomorrow, Prince William is going to speak at the big memorial service at Hadley Park. Before he arrives there, he is visiting Sumner, which is one of the hardest areas hit by the earthquake.In Sumner, one of his missions is to meet with the Christchurch search and rescue workers, and the firemen there.
From Sumner,, he is flying by helicopter into Hadley Park for the Memorial Service.
The Park has been refurbished, already for the Memorial Service at noon today. It looks very grand and beautiful, with the flowers from the abandoned Ellerslie Flower Show adorning the stage and its surroundings. It is expected that tens of thousands of people from all over New Zealand will turn out for the Memorial Service being held for the people who died in the earthquake of 22 February 2011.
The Prince,who has inherited his mother’s easy charm and empathy for those in need, has charmed absolutely everybody he has met. He has brought comfort to many of those who are suffering loss.
We are very lucky to have him in New Zealand right now. He is doing a power of good, and his Mum would be very proud of him.