Prince William has given a powerful speech in New Zealand as the country continues to mourn after the Christchurch massacre last month, in which 50 people were killed.
Speaking at an Anzac Day memorial service on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, William drew on his own deeply personal experience of grief – the sudden death of his mother, Princess Diana in 1997 – in an attempt to comfort a nation still in pain.
“In a moment of acute pain, you stood up and you stood together and in reaction to tragedy, you achieved something remarkable,” he addressed New Zealand.
“I have had reasons myself to reflect on grief and sudden pain and loss in my own life and in my role, I have often seen up close the sorrow of others in moments of tragedy, as I have today.
“What I have realized,” he continued, “is that of course grief can change your outlook. You don’t ever forget the shock, the sadness, and the pain, but I do not believe that grief changes who you are. Grief—if you let it—will reveal who you are … The startling weight of grief can burst any bubble of complacency in how you live your life, and help you to live up to the values you espouse.”
Prince William visited the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and met community members and survivors of last month’s massacre pic.twitter.com/03SHiEfAlR
— TIME (@TIME) April 26, 2019
Praising the country’s resilient, compassionate response to the tragedy, he said:
“An act of violence was designed to change New Zealand. But instead, the grief of a nation revealed just how deep your wells of empathy, compassion, warmth, and love truly run,” he told the audience.
“The Muslim community showed the world the true face of Islam as a religion of peace and understanding.”
In a call for an end to racial and religious divisions, he finished:
“To the people of New Zealand and the people of Christchurch—to our Muslim community and all those who have rallied to your side—I stand with you in gratitude for what you have taught the world these past weeks. I stand with you in optimism about the future of this great city. I stand with you in grief for those we have lost, and with support for those who survived and I stand with you in firm belief that the forces of love will always prevail over the forces of hate.”