After a couple of days yacht racing, coaching rugby teams, tasting tasting and white water rafting, day eight’s scheduled events were slightly more sombre. William and Kate visited Christchurch, located on New Zealand’s South Island, a city devastated by a terrible earthquake back in February 2011. William and Kate are visiting the city to pay tribute to the 185 people were killed in the earthquake, and to meet the families they left behind.
The day began at 10:30am local time with the royal couple touching down in Christchurch to the sound of cheers from a crowd of royal fans at the Royal New Zealand Airforce base. The royals went straight to an official welcome ceremony outside the Christchurch City Council building, conducted by a cloaked Ngai Tahu elder. Once again,the royals partook in a traditional ‘hongi‘ nose rubbing greeting:
After the traditional welcome, William and Kate met with families at the CTV Building memorial site, a location that was badly hit during the earthquakes. From Wikipedia:
The CTV Building was the headquarters of Canterbury Television (locally known as CTV) and other companies. Located in the Christchurch Central City on the corner of Cashel and Madras Streets, it became one of the symbols of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. 115 people lost their lives when the CTV Building collapsed during the 2011 earthquake; more than half of the earthquake’s total fatalities.
The families William and Kate met lost loved ones in the terrible earthquake, which left the city reeling for months after the devastation. Kate and William took the time to speak with each relative individually. The royal couple also lay a memorial stone. Here’s a sweet picture of Kate talking to a lady at the CTV Building:
Next, the royal couple visited the ‘Transitional Cathedral’. This is also known as the ‘Cardboard Cathedral.’ The original cathedral was significantly damaged beyond repair in the 2011 earthquake. A look at the couple entering the colourful building:
The couple were met with choral singing as they arrived. According to 3news, William told the Bishop that he thought the cathedral was “beautiful”.
After a meet and greet in the city, the royal duo headed off to the Hagley Oval for a Cricket World Cup young cricketers event. Both royals got involved with the game, with Kate trying to bat in her four inch heels:
New Zealand’s 3News files the following report on the cricket event:
Despite getting some bowling tips from cricket legend Sir Richard Hadlee, Prince William sent a bad wide ball towards his wife Catherine, who was coached by Debbie Hockley.
The Duchess adopted a classic batting stance as the ball flew far to the left, drawing a cry from the crowd.
William’s next three bowls to Catherine were more on target, with the Duchess hitting two of them with a plastic yellow bat. Then it was Will’s turn.
“Be nice,” the Duke called to his young bowlers over his shoulder as he headed for the bat.
“Good ball,” he said after missing the first bowl.
The second, he hit low and flat.
“I’m trying!” he told the excited fielders.
The Duke then thrilled the crowd with two high shots, but managed to escape without being caught out.
The pedigree of his opposition was not lost on bowler Joseph Wells: “I tried not to knock his head off,” the 12-year-old said.
William and Kate formally greeted the 28 young cricketers from local schools and learnt more about the development the Hagley Oval Cricket Ground, which will host three ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 matches.
Kate has a precedent for playing sports in her heels, you may recall she played a few hockey shots in heels during a school visit back in November 2012.
Next, it was onto Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where the royals formally opened the visitor centre:
Kate got to cut through a stunning floral ‘ribbon’ made especially for the event. The Botanic Gardens are an important part of the city’s regeneration after the devastating 2011 earthquake, they have become a haven for the local people. According to the Visitor centre team leader Lynda Burns, the gardens are a place to “find peace and remember … childhood memories.” She adds, “so much had been lost but the botanic gardens was still here.”
After formally opening the Botanic Gardens’ visitor centre, the royal couple headed over to the Air Force Museum in Wigram, where they attended a Future Focus lunch. Poached chick and smoked salmon were on the menu.
The couple were given a tour of the museum at Wigram, a disused former air base. William was in his element as he viewed the historical planes, apparently he made a comment about how being in a hall of planes made him long to be flying again.
At the museum, the couple payed their respects at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Memorial Wall. Before they left, they signed they unveiled a memorial plaque and signed the visitors book too.
Finally, William and Kate returned to Wellington and Government House at the end of the day. Tomorrow (Tuesday), they will both take a rest day, before their final few engagements in New Zealand on Wednesday. The couple will fly to Sydney that afternoon.
Kate wore a red ensemble by Italian designer Luisa Spagnoli. We’ve seen Kate wear this outfit once previously, during the couple’s second official public appearance together at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland back in 2011. Here’s a handy comparison:
Those who have a keen eye for detail have already noticed that Kate’s skirt appears considerably longer in today’s pictures. Ayvee Elliot from Diana’s Jewels notes that today Kate appears to be wearing the Spagnoli dress, which has been altered into a skirt. You can tell this due to seaming on the dress, which is missing from the skirt. It’s difficult to explain, but for those interested, Ayvee provides plenty of detail in this Facebook thread.
Interestingly, on the same day that Kate visited Saint Andrews in 2011, she also signed the book of condolences to express her sorrow for the Christchurch earthquake, wearing the Luisa Spagnoli dress and a black coat.
The colours Kate chose for today (and back in 2011) are very significant, they’re the colours of Canterbury, the region of New Zealand the royal couple are visiting while they’re in Christchurch. I believe it’s not a coincidence that Kate chose to wear these colours..
In 2011, The Daily Mail wrote that “Kate purchased the striking £160 skirt and £335 sushi jacket from Hollie de Keyser in Knightsbridge, Central London.” From today’s pictures, and from the condolences book signing, it also clear that Kate owns the dress too.
Today, Kate carried her black suede Mulberry Bayswater Clutch and matching black suede Episode Angel pumps.
And one last thing:
This has to be the best photograph taken of Kate by a member of the public so far during this tour!
— Christine Gooding (@mrsgooding) April 14, 2014
Some fun tidbits from events that you might enjoy reading from this week:
Here are some interesting tidbits from The Express newspaper today. Apparently:
1) Kate’s ended her maternity leave. Apparently, she has told aides she intends to step up her royal duties in the coming months.
2) Those Corkswoons ARE as high as they look! At the Vineyard yesterday, Kate nearly fell over. She looked unstable on the rough ground, then slipped and grabbed William’s arm to steady herself.
3) During her vineyard visit, Kate told wine-makers that she was really enjoying being able to drink again after having baby George. Hannah Armstrong, from Mudhouse Wines, said: “Kate said she hadn’t drunk whilst pregnant with George and although she doesn’t drink much she was really enjoying the odd glass.”
4) William and Kate waved for souvenir photographs during their white water rafting ride – which were given to them afterwards.
….And this tidbit about Baby George’s routine from today’s New Zealand Herald:
5) Kate’s got baby George settled into a good routine, although it took three days for the little prince to settle after the long haul flight to New Zealand. Kate has been having breakfast with baby George evening morning, then putting him back to sleep. She’s also been back in time to bathe him every night (except for the one night they stayed away in Georgetown).