Prince William to attend quake memorial service

10:49 pm on 9 March 2011

Britain's Prince William is to attend the national memorial service for victims of the Christchurch earthquake.

At least 166 people died in the quake in New Zealand's second-biggest city on 22 February.

Prime Minister John Key says Prince William will represent the Queen at the service, to be held at North Hagley Park on 18 March.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the Prince's visit will lift the spirit of the city, giving it the people a sense of pride, faith and optimism.

Plans are under way for William to speak at next Friday's memorial service.

During his two-day visit to New Zealand, the Prince will also travel to Greymouth to meet with families who lost loved ones in the Pike River mine disaster last November.

Mr Key says the Prince's visit is a heart-warming gesture that will mean a lot to the thousands of people whose lives have been changed forever by both events.

William will then fly to Australia where he will visit the states of Queensland and Victoria affected by recent cyclones and flooding.

The Prince is to marry Kate Middleton in London on 29 April.