Prince William's heartfelt encouragement touches emergency services staff

7:08 am on 26 April 2019

Moving into the second day of a royal tour by Prince William, the police commissioner has recounted advice and comfort offered by the Duke to Christchurch's emergency service personnel.

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Prince William meets with first responders to the scene of the Christchurch mosque attacks. Photo: Pool / AFP

Prince William is in Christchurch for two days to pay his respects after the last month's mosque attacks, on behalf of the Queen.

Speaking to police, St John Ambulance and Armed Offenders Squad yesterday afternoon, the Duke of Cambridge said a good friend does not just pick up the phone when someone is in need - "you travel to their place and you put your arms around them".

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the emotion was quite palpable in the room as Prince William offered his support, and asked individuals to share their experiences of 15 March.

"They were quite overwhelmed - and at the same time he has the ability to put people in a relaxed state," he said.

"There was a moment when he was with all of the first responders, engaging with them, just telling them how important their job was, but also the importance of looking after themselves into the future."

Prince William also offered specific advice.

"His major piece of advice was to talk to people, talk to each other, to make sure you don't bottle up the stresses that come with such tragic events," Mr Bush said.

Earlier in the day, Prince William made a quiet hospital visit to a five-year-old girl hurt in the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Alen Alsati began speaking this week after being left in a coma during last month's shootings.

A video tweeted by Kensington Palace shows William at the child's bedside in Auckland's Starship Hospital, talking to her about his daughter Charlotte.

"She's about the same age as you," he says after prompting from Alen.

The prince also met with Alen's father, Wasseim, who was transferred to Auckland from Christchurch while still wounded to be by his daughter's side.

Prince William also took part in an Anzac Day service earlier in the day, laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in the Auckland Domain, before flying to Christchurch.

The Duke of Cambridge's first Christchurch stop-off since 2014 was a brief and high security one, with police escorts taking him through a back gate while armed guards stood watch.

During his time inside the building, crowds grew on the pavement outside hoping they may be able to catch a glimpse. They included a large media contingent, about 40 royal fans and inquisitive passers-by - and a vocal ban-1080 protester who was asked to refrain from using a loudhailer by the police.

Crowds gathered in the justice precinct in Christchurch, to catch a glimpse of Prince William, on 25 April, 2019.

Crowds gathered in Christchurch to catch a glimpse of Prince William. Photo: RNZ

Kate Mahoney was one of the first on the scene and said she has been interested in the royals since living in London in the era of Princess Diana.

"I think it's a great thing that he's showing leadership and representing the Queen," she said.

Another royals fan, Amy Warner, said it meant a lot that the royal family were showing their feelings for New Zealand as a member of the commonwealth.

The public will have the chance to see more of Prince William today, with several more visits planned around the city before he leaves.

One is a meeting with survivors of the mosque attacks, before a central city walkabout from 4pm which the public can attend.

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