By Nick Perry The Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Britain’s Prince William on Friday visited the two mosques where a gunman last month killed 50 people and said the white supremacist accused of the massacre had failed in his mission to spread hate.
The Duke of Cambridge spoke to about 100 people at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, including survivors of the shootings, Muslim leaders and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“Tragedy unfolded in this room. A terrorist attempted to sow division and hatred in a place that stands for togetherness and selflessness,” the prince said. “He thought he could redefine what this place was. I’m here to help you show the world that he failed.”
The prince said he’d been visiting New Zealand since before he could walk, and he’d always been impressed by the way New Zealanders looked out to the world with optimism.
“I could not believe the news that I was hearing on the 15th of March, in a country that seemed to be bucking the global trends of division and anger,” William said.
But New Zealand didn’t fall victim to fear and distrust as the terrorist wanted, William said.
“New Zealanders had other plans. The people of Al Noor and Linwood mosques had other plans,” he said. “In a moment of acute pain, you stood up, and you stood together.”
William did not name the accused gunman, a practice Ardern and others have followed in an attempt to deny him notoriety.
Ardern told reporters it was significant that such an important member of the royal family had cancelled other engagements and come to New Zealand personally to pay his respects.
William also visited the Linwood mosque and met with some of those recovering from gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital. As well as the 50 who died in the attacks, another 50 were wounded.
The prince also laid a wreath at a memorial wall built to commemorate the 185 people in Christchurch who died in a 2011 earthquake.
The prince was on a two-day trip to New Zealand. On Thursday, he met with police officers and medics who responded to the attacks. He also attended a service in Auckland to commemorate soldiers killed during World War I.