Saturday 20 April 2019

'We are with you' - Heavily pregnant Meghan and Harry sign book of condolence for victims of Christchurch terror attack

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the New Zealand High Commission to sign a book of condolence on behalf of the Royal Family, in London, Britain March 19, 2019. Ian Vogler/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the New Zealand High Commission to sign a book of condolence on behalf of the Royal Family, in London, Britain March 19, 2019. Ian Vogler/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the New Zealand High Commission to sign a book of condolence on behalf of the Royal Family, in London, Britain March 19, 2019. Ian Vogler/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the New Zealand High Commission to sign a book of condolence on behalf of the Royal Family, in London, Britain March 19, 2019. Ian Vogler/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the New Zealand High Commission to sign a book of condolence on behalf of the Royal Family, in London, Britain March 19, 2019. Ian Vogler/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the New Zealand House to sign the book of condolence on behalf of the Royal Family in London, Britain March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Henry Vaughan

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have told New Zealanders "we are with you" as they signed a book of condolence for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack.

Heavily pregnant Meghan wore a pair of earrings featuring a crossed feathers design given to her by the country's prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

The duchess and her husband Harry greeted the New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK Sir Jerry Mateparae with the traditional Maori method of pressing noses together on Tuesday afternoon.

They both placed bouquets of flowers outside the building in central London, adding to the pile of floral tributes which has grown since 50 people were killed after a lone gunman opened fire at two mosques during last week's Friday prayers.

The duke and duchess were among the first to sign the book of condolence, which opened to the public on Tuesday.

On a single page, they left the message: "Our deepest condolences... We are with you."

Beneath their signatures was the Maori word "Arohanui", meaning much love.

The duke and duchess met with members of staff at the High Commission to discuss their response to the atrocity.

Meghan said "we are with you", adding she was "just devastated" by the atrocity, as she cradled her baby bump.

Harry said "it's just very sad" as he asked about their connections to Christchurch.

Sir Jerry said: "We are overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of support we've received from across the UK.

"Their Royal Highness's visit is reflective of this outpouring of support and it was wonderful to welcome them to New Zealand House."

Meghan's appearance came more than a week after her last official public engagement before the arrival of her baby.

She joined the royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey last Monday after visiting Canada House with Harry.

The duchess is believed to be around six weeks away from the arrival of her first child, which she has said is due in late April or early May.

Meghan and Harry's baby will be seventh in line to the throne and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's eighth great-grandchild.

Kensington Palace announced the pregnancy on the eve of the couple's first royal tour, which ended in New Zealand.

The duchess made a big impression on the country's people and was singled out for praise by figures including Ms Ardern.

She said Meghan's pregnancy "increased my respect for the role that she's playing at such an often tiring time", adding: "I have real empathy and I think she's incredible."

The duchess in turn praised the efforts of Kiwi women who fought for the right to vote 125 years ago, saying they were "universally admired".

In the wake of last week's terror attack, the Queen led heartfelt messages of condolence from senior royals to the people of New Zealand.

In a joint message, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: "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."

Press Association

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