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Prince William’s visit to take more sombre tone

Article – RNZ

A royal visit is usually cause for clamoring crowds and speculation about where the best places are to catch a glimpse, but this week’s visit by Prince William is expected to be a little more solemn.A royal visit is usually cause for clamoring crowds and speculation about where the best places are to catch a glimpse, but this week’s visit by Prince William is expected to be a little more solemn.

Prince William on an official visit to Stockholm in Sweden in January 2018. Photo: Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons

The Duke of Cambridge is touching down in the country tomorrow morning, for a two-day visit, where he will spend most of his time in Christchurch to pay respects to those affected by the mosque shootings.

Ten people remain in hospital more than a month on from the shootings – five of them are in Christchurch.

He will also visit Al Noor and Linwood mosques and Christchurch’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.

University of Canterbury Muslim Students’ Association head Bariz Shah said Prince William’s visit means a lot.

“We honour Prince William’s empathy if it is his top agenda to come and see the victims. Just like we honour the empathy of the New Zealand people. Prince William coming in and showing his empathy would mean a lot, not only to the students, but to the wider Muslim community as well.”

Along with the University of Canterbury Students’ Association, Mr Shah has written to Prince William requesting he meet with students directly affected by the 15 March attacks.

He has also suggested the British government or royal family set up some sort of scholarship as a tangible show of their solidarity.

“We have a student in the University of Canterbury for example, who lost his father and brother and he’s actually a really bright kid. He’s finishing his degree here at UC but maybe a masters or a PhD scholarship somewhere in UK, something like that would be awesome and it would actually stay with the people for the rest of their lives.”

Christchurch woman and staunch royalist Lisbeth Clement, who shares her wedding anniversary with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, said she caught a glimpse of the duke when he visited the city in 2011, after the earthquakes.

She said that visit lifted people’s spirits and hoped this week’s visit would have a similar impact.

“It’s all been quite moving with what’s been going on … words fail me with what’s happened.”

Ms Clement has seen different members of the royal family many times, including the Queen Mother in London on her 100th birthday.

She said while it was likely to be a sombre visit it was hard not to get excited about adding another sighting to her list.

“We lived in Dunedin and I met Prince Charles – I was so excited I couldn’t speak, my friend did all the talking for me – and Prince Harry, when he was here, I got a good strong handshake … that was nice.”

Security detailing around the Prince’s visit has not been made public, but is expected to be tight.

Police said they are well practised and experienced in policing visits of high profile individuals, but for operational reasons could not go into any details about what this would look like.

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