On the last day of official engagements in New Zealand, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Christchurch on Monday.
To begin the day, the Royal couple met with the mayor of Christchurch at the CTV Memorial Park. The park honours those who were victims of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. William visited New Zealand
shortly after the natural disaster, and saw the devastation himself.
William and Kate each took a commemorative stone and placed it at the earthquake memorial, paying their respects to the 115 victims of the CTV building collapse. They spoke at length with the families of four quake victims at the memorial park for the CTV building. They were only supposed to meet a handful of families, but insisted on seeing the other families that were there to see the Royals too. They crossed the grass and greeted them as well, including an elderly lady in a wheelchair, who presented The Duchess with flowers.
There was also a ‘cardboard transitional cathedral’, built when Christchurch’s cathedral collapsed in the disaster. The building was viewed by the Duke and Duchess and described by them as ‘beautiful’.
Crowds gathered in Latimer Square to greet the Royal couple. During the walkabout, a young teen gave Kate a self-written book called ‘George meets a Kiwi’, which Kate said she would read to the Prince that evening. The parents also met FIVE sets of twins, whose parents regularly meet up and had made the Royal visit their next meeting place. William joked that he hoped they didn’t want him to babysit.
Next on the agenda was Hagley Oval, where a number of matches for the ICC 2015 Cricket World Cup will be held.
Ever the competitive pair, William and Catherine had a game of cricket, with Kate batting first. Luckily, the bat and ball were plastic, as William sent a full-toss her way, which got very close to her face! The Duchess laughed it off, but wagged her finger at her husband, who had played a lot of cricket at Eton as a teen.
She managed to hit one ball, despite wearing a pair of black heels. William faired a little better, and missed two high-shots, but managed a few hits without being caught. Kate’s red Luisa Spagnoli suit was previously seen at St. Andrews 600th anniversary celebrations, where Will and Kate were special guests to the celebrations, just a few days after the earthquake. Red and black are the colours of the Canterbury region, another mark of respect.
Later on, Will and Kate opened the Botanical Garden’s visitor centre, which cost over $16 million. Sharing a pair of scissors, they cut a floral ribbon that signified the opening of the centre. They had a tour of the large glass structure, including the plant nursery, which replaced the outdated building that had chicken wire to help keep possums out, and had segregated men and women.
They then made their way to the Air Force Museum at Wigram, where around 500 businesspeople gathered for a luncheon along with the local Chamber of Commerce. The husband and wife team chatted with local authorities about the redevelopment of the area, and William gave a speech, talking of how he and his wife felt very welcome in New Zealand, and that they would return to see how the redevelopments went.
“Christchurch is a city which has chosen not only to survive but to thrive. Catherine and I have found ourselves moved this morning by the reminders of how awful the second earthquake was,” William stated in his address according to The Australian.
He also paid tribute to the tsunami victims in the Solomon Islands, which hit just the day before.
The Duke and Duchess then viewed the Wall of Remembrance, and paid their respects to New Zealand’s RNZAF and their fallen comrades by placing a rose each on the wall.
2014 marks the centenary of WWI, and so there have been numerous remembrance related engagements for William and Kate in New Zealand, as the commonwealth army also fought for Britain.
Photo Credit: Government House, New Zealand