In 2011, an earthquake destroyed the New Zealand city of Christchurch, killing 185 people. Three years on, the Duke of Cambridge has written a letter to the residents of the city to assure them that they have not been forgotten.
The letter also provides speculative details that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are planning to visit city later this year on their tour of New Zealand in April. An official announcement has not yet been made whether the couple will visit the Canterbury region.
Prince William ended his message assuring the people of Christchurch “are in the thoughts and prayers of countless people around the world”.
The Prince’s letter was read out in full at a Civic Memorial Service.
Here is a copy of the letter in full:
“Three years ago today, the city of Christchurch and wider Canterbury suffered a devastating tragedy. Lives were lost and the heart of a city was ripped out. It seems unbelievable that this beautiful and historic place could suffer such a crippling blow, with so many families and friendships irretrievably broken up.
When I visited the city in March 2011, I saw the destruction first hand and I had the chance to hear about the selfless heroism of first-responders and ordinary men and women who reached out to their neighbours. Cantabrians’ response on that fateful day and in the weeks following was testament to the human spirit at its very best.
Three years have now passed. For some of you, who suffered bereavements and shocks, the events of February 22, 2011 will seem like yesterday. You will perhaps wonder how you have managed to carry on.
Yet, step by step, Christchurch is recovering and rebuilding. The city is beginning a new chapter in its history. I am greatly looking forward to returning to Christchurch to see some of the progress and to witness again the unquenchable spirit of this place. On this anniversary, please be assured that you are in the thoughts and prayers of countless people around the world, fellow Cantabrians all of us.
Catherine and I send you our warm wishes, and we hope that you find comfort as you gather with your friends, neighbours and loved ones to remember what was lost.