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Festive mood turns sombre as royal couple arrive at CTV memorial garden and speak to victims' relatives.
Surrounded by empty lots and raw new buildings in Christchurch's partly rebuilt city centre, the Duchess of Cambridge's eyes welled with tears as she spoke to relatives of the 2011 earthquake victims.
The official motorcade was greeted with the cheering and shouting typical of this royal tour - but the mood on the corner of Madras St and Cashel St soon turned sombre as William and Catherine stepped on to the site where the CTV building once stood.
Liana Bush is comforted in 2011 at the scene where her father Ross was crushed in his car. Photo / APN
Destroyed by the Canterbury earthquake in 2011, the site is now a grass area with a memorial garden, and was yesterday filled with more than 100 relatives of earthquake victims and people injured in the tragedy.
Image 1 of 37: Prince William and Kate arrive in Christchurch. Photo / Govgeneralnz Instagram
Later, the couple visited the Air Force Museum at Wigram, where about 500 Christchurch business people had gathered inside for Future Focus: Christchurch's Redevelopment lunch. Prince William gave a four-minute speech in which he paid tribute to the city's resilience and said he looked forward to seeing the city rise again.
He and his wife had "found ourselves moved at just how awful" the February 22, 2011 earthquake was.
Since he last visited, just after the deadly February quake, he had been struck by the "resilience and adaptability" of the local people.
Despite the daunting job of rebuilding, Cantabrians had kept their "classic Kiwi humour", he said.
"Christchurch is a city which has chosen not only to survive but to thrive," William said. "Catherine and I look forward to coming back to see how the city takes shape."
Moment to remember for family
A Monday morning off school ended with a royal selfie for Curtis Loose.
The 16-year-old Christchurch Boys' High School student attended a special audience with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Canterbury Television Memorial Park. Families of the 185 people killed in the February 22, 2011, earthquake, the badly injured and survivors of building collapses were invited to the event at Prince William's request.
Curtis' grandfather, Ross Bush, died when the 6.3 quake shook a Riccarton Rd bakery facade on to the parked car he was sitting in. The 75-year-old semi-retired bricklayer had stopped between jobs and was about to head inside to buy his lunch.
Curtis told the Herald it meant a lot that William made time to meet with the families most affected by that day.
Curtis' mother Liana Bush said the Prince approached their family and spent some time talking. They then gave him a gift of a merino cape for baby George, which he accepted.
Mrs Bush said the event had been upbeat, but emotional.
"[Prince William] asked us who we lost in the earthquake and how we're coping as a family, and in Christchurch. I just said we've come a long way but we've still got a long way to go - we're all a pretty strong bunch of people here in Christchurch."
Herald photographer Greg Bowker, who photographed the family yesterday, also captured Mrs Bush outside the collapsed bakery which she visited to retrieve her father's belongings. She said at the time her father had been a bricklayer since he was 15 and it was "bloody bricks" that killed him. "He would have found that funny. That's the sort of sense of humour he had."