The Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry stepped out for an unscheduled appearance at London’s New Zealand House on Tuesday (March 19) to sign a book of condolences and pay tribute to the victims of last week’s terror attacks in Christchurch. The visit came as a surprise, since Meghan was not scheduled to make any more public appearances, despite not yet starting her maternity leave.
The duke and duchess were greeted by Sir Jeremiah Mateparae, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the UK and former New Zealand governor-general, and Deputy High Commissioner to the UK David Evans. Both Meghan and Harry said hello to Jerry with the Hongi, the traditional Māori greeting.
Meghan and Harry arrived carrying flowers, which they placed outside the building before heading in and signing the condolences book. Fifty people were killed and dozens more were wounded in the attacks last Friday when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at two mosques during Friday prayers. The couple were also scheduled to meet with New Zealand officials to discuss how the country is responding to the violence.
“Our deepest condolences. We are with you,” Meghan wrote in the book, next to Harry’s signature. The duke wrote “Arohanui” next to his signature, which means “best wishes” in Maori.
The duchess was also wearing Boh Runga earringsthat were a gift to her from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
On Friday, the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles released statements expressing sadness over the New Zealand attacks. “I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” the Queen’s statement read.
Charles called the attacks “barbaric” and said he and the Duchess of Cornwall were “utterly horrified” by the violence: “It is beyond belief that so many should have been killed and injured at their place of worship and our most special and heartfelt sympathy goes out to all the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives.”
Meghan and Harry joined Duchess Kate and Prince William in issuing a statement through Kensington Palace the same day, saying their hearts went out to the victims: We have all been fortunate to spend time in Christchurch and have felt the warm, open-hearted and generous spirit that is core to its remarkable people.”
“No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship,” the statement continued, calling the violence a “horrifying assault.” “This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community. It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship.”