Prince William honors WWI dead in New Zealand on Anzac Day | News | DW | 25.04.2019
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Prince William honors WWI dead in New Zealand on Anzac Day

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Australia, New Zealand and Turkey to commemorate WWI soldiers killed at Gallipoli. Britain's Prince William marked the event in Auckland before heading to Christchurch.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for unity at the Anzac Day ceremony honoring Australian and New Zealand troops who lost their lives in the 1915 battle on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula.

"Let us recommit to always remembering our shared humanity, that there is more that unites us than divides us," Ardern said.

"Our sense of independence is as strong as our sense of responsibility to each other and not just as nation-states but as human beings. That is part of the Anzac legacy," she added at the event in Auckland, which was also attended by the UK's Prince William.

The prince did not speak at the ceremony, but he laid a wreath in the name of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. The British monarch formally serves as New Zealand's head of state.

Thousands lost in WWI

The word Anzac was originally an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the official designation for troops from the two countries who took part in WWI against Germany and its allies.

One of those allies was the Ottoman Empire, which modern-day Turkey belonged to. On April 25, 1915, Anzac soldiers landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula to launch a bloody and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to capture Constantinople. Some 10,000 Australian and New Zealand troops lost their lives.

The date of the Gallipoli landing now serves as a national day of remembrance honoring all fallen veterans from the two countries.

In the peninsula's Anzac Cove, some 1,100 Australians and New Zealanders took part in a dawn service to remember the fallen.

New Zealand Muslims to show support

Thursday's ceremony was held under heavy security in Auckland, with the country still reeling from attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch six weeks ago. Snipers were visible on the rooftops.

Muslim youth association leader Azeem Zafarullah said it was important for the Muslim community to take part in the Anzac Day services following the mosque attacks.

"It's important that we show the public that we're here to represent our country — we are loyal citizens," he told reporters.

With Muslims receiving strong support following the mosque shootings, it is "important that we show that support back," he added.

Read more: Sri Lanka bombings likely retaliation for Christchurch attacks

'Good friend'

After honoring Anzac soldiers, Prince William traveled to Christchurch to talk to rescue workers and police officers who had been first to arrive at the scene of the two massacres.

According to New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush, the prince urged the first responders to look after themselves. The royal also explained his visit to Christchurch by saying that a "good friend" must do more than simply pick up the phone when someone is in need.

"You travel to their place and you put your arms around them," the prince reportedly told the staff.

The 36-year-old royal had been trained to fly rescue helicopters during his time in the British military and later worked as an air ambulance pilot for several years.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spoke at a separate Anzac Day event in Townsville, Queensland, sharing the account of his grandfather, a World War II veteran.

"Our heroes don't just belong to the past, they live with us today," Morrison said.

dj/amp (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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