April 26:Prince William has delighted a young survivor of the mosque shootings by visiting her in hospital in Auckland.
Alen Alsati, 5, sustained numerous critical injuries in the Christchurch attacks in which 50 people were killed on 15 March. Alsati cannot see, walk, or move properly. She also suffered brain damage, her doctors said, and it is not yet known if it will be permanent.
She has been treated at Starship hospital in Auckland and woke from a coma this week.
William perched on the edge of her bed as she confidently asked him questions. Alen only began talking again – in English and Arabic – a few days ago. New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, was also at the child’s bedside, wearing a bronze-coloured hijab.
“Do you have a daughter?” Alsati asked William.
“Yeah, she’s called Charlotte,” he replied.
“What’s the name called?”
“Charlotte. She’s about the same age as you.”
“Charlotte,” Alsati murmured quietly.
The Duke of Cambridge is on a two-day tour of New Zealand to pay his respects to the survivors of the shootings, in which dozens were shot dead by a lone gunman. Details of William’s visit have been kept tightly under wraps, due to the country’s heightened terror risk.
On Friday, Ardern and the Duke also visited a Christchurch hospital where some survivors were still recovering, before visiting Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where William told those assembled that love had triumphed over hate in awful circumstances.
He began his speech in te reo Māori – just as his brother Prince Harry and wife Megan did when they visited New Zealand – as well as in Arabic, greeting the crowd with as-salaam alaikum [peace be upon you].
The lone gunman in the attack had sought to sow division, but William said: “I’m here to help you show the world that he failed.”
“An act of unspeakable hate had unfolded in New Zealand – a country of peace,” he said. “In a moment of acute pain you stood up, and you stood together. And in reaction to tragedy you achieved something remarkable … 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.
“You showed the way we must respond to hate – with love.”
Footage posted by Kensington Palace showed the Duke swamped by people at Al Noor mosque, and chatting animatedly.
Emergency responders who met William said he showed keen insight and compassion regarding their work, because of his work as a rescue helicopter pilot. “You did an incredible job on a very bad day,” William told ambulance workers.