The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have sent a joint message of condolence to the people of New Zealand following the Christchurch mosque shootings, which has left 49 people dead. Kensington Palace released this statement, which read: "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the devastating attack in Christchurch. 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."
The royal couples have paid their respects
"No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship," the message continued. "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. We know that from this devastation and deep mourning, the people of New Zealand will unite to show that such evil can never defeat compassion and tolerance." The two royal couples concluded: "We send our thoughts and prayers to everyone in New Zealand today. Kia Kaha." Kia Kaha is a Maori phrase used by the people of New Zealand as an affirmation, meaning "stay strong".
The message comes shortly after the Queen has released a statement on behalf of herself and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, saying: "I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives." Her Majesty continued: "I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured. At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders. Elizabeth R."
The news of the terror attack broke early on Friday morning. Two shootings - the country's worst-ever mass shooting - had taken place in mosques in Christchurch, when people were attending Friday prayers. A man in his late 20s was charged with murder, while two other men and one woman were detained nearby and their firearms seized. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as New Zealand's "darkest day." She said: "We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the fact that we are none of these things. It was because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values." The PM added: "You have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you."