The Prince and Princess of Wales have thanked outgoing New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern for her support while leading the Commonwealth nation – particularly following the death of Queen Elizabeth.
William and Kate took to their Kensington Royal Twitter account to share their gratitude to the politician, who announced last week she would be stepping down as leader saying she had ‘nothing left in the tank’ and carried out her final public engagement today.
The message, signed off by ‘W & C’, said: ‘Thank you Jacinda Ardern for your friendship, leadership and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother’s death. Sending you, Clarke and Neve our best wishes.’
The message referred to Clarke Gayford, the prime minister’s long term partner and fiancé, and their daughter Neve Te Aroha, who was born in June 2018.
Prince William (pictured receiving a hongi greeting from Jacinda Ardern in 2019) thanked Jacinda Ardern for her support after she announced she was stepping down
Prince William, his wife and Ms Ardern have met several times since she took office in 2017.
Their last official meeting took place in sombre times for the couple, when Jacinda travelled to the UK to attend the late Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on September 19.
For the occasion, the politician wore a black dress with a custom-made feather Kākahu, a traditional cloak, crafted for the occasion by Maori designer, Kiri Nathan.
The outfit, she said, was chosen because she wanted to bring a ‘piece of New Zealand’ to the British funeral.
The Prince and Princess of Wales shared a heartfelt message, addressed to the New Zealand PM, on their Twitter page
The New Zealand PM wearing a Maori cloak during her last public engagement, which saw her visit a Maori settlement of Ratana in the North Island earlier today
Ms Ardern also wore a royal-inspired hat, made by local designer Monika Neuhauser.
The Kiwi leader met with King Charles for about ten minutes in what she described as a ‘really warm meeting’ ahead of the ceremony.
‘What I can share is that it was a warm conversation, that the King was deeply appreciative of the thoughts of New Zealand, and of the efforts that so many have made to come and pay their respects,’ she told the New Zealand Herald at the time.
Jacinda also met with William, 40, last July when she visited this side of the oceam for the first time since the Covid 19 pandemic, which saw her introduce particularly strict travel restrictions.
Pictured: Ms Ardern, wearing a custom-made feather Kākahu, a traditional cloak, crafted for the occasion by Maori designer, Kiri Nathan, during the late Queen’s funeral on September 2019
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is pictured with her fiancé, Clarke Gayford, heading into the Queen’s funeral last September
The Duke of Cambridge met with the New Zealand Prime Minister at his royal residence, Kensington Palace in London at the time, with a picture of the meeting being released.
In April 2019, Prince William, 40, travelled to New Zealand on a solo visit where he commemorated Anzac Day.
Upon arrival he was greeted by the prime minister with a traditional Maori greeting called a hongi.
What is the hongi?
The traditional Māori greeting is performed by two people pressing their noses together.
Through the exchange of this greeting, one is no longer considered manuhiri, a visitor, but rather tangata whenua, one of the people of the land.
Several royals have been greeted with the hongi during visits to New Zealand, including Prince Charles, Diana, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan.
Former US President Barack Obama exchanged a hongi with Ms Ardern during a visit to the country in March 2018.
During the visit, he also met with survivors of the Christchurch terror attack, which had happened just one month earlier and claimed the lives of 51 people at two mosques in the city.
Attending the Anzac Day service, the Prince of Wales did not make a speech, but the prime minister spoke of how the event was a reminder of shared values in the wake of the terror attack.
‘Let us recommit to always remembering our shared humanity, that there is more that unites us than divides us,’ she 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.’
Prince William laid a wreath on behalf of the Crown and The Last Post was then played before WWI and WWII planes flew over.
While there he reflected on his own grief and loss following the death of his mother in 1997, saying: ‘I’ve had reason myself to reflect on grief, sudden pain and loss in my own life.
‘What I’ve realised is that of course grief can change your outlook, you don’t forget the shock and sadness or pain, but I do not believe grief changes who you are.’
The Duke of Cambridge, who rarely speaks about his mother’s death, revealed at the time just how much of an impact the loss had on him, occurring when he was just 15 years of age.
He said: ‘Grief, if you let it, will reveal who you are. It can reveal depths you did not know you had.
‘This is what happened here. An act of violence was designed to change New Zealand, but instead the grief of a nation revealed just how deep your wells of empathy, compassion, warmth and love truly run.’
Prince William and Jacinda Ardern during his solo visit to New Zealand in 2019, where he took part in ANZAC ceremonies and visited the two mosques where a gunman killed 50 people in March of that year
The PM and Prince William met at Kensington Palace when she visited over the summer, in her first trip to the UK since the covid-19 pandemic
Jacinda Arden was among the official present at the mosque at the time, who welcomed Prince William on his visit.
William and Kate have always been fond of the country, with its Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro saying last September that they were ‘desperate’ to visit the country once again.
‘The Prince of Wales said that he and the Princess of Wales would be desperate to get to New Zealand as soon as they can,’ she said.
‘But of course they have young children and we’ll have to see what happens.
‘I can tell you, I think everybody loves New Zealand, and it’s a good thing to be the Governor-General of a country that everyone likes,’ she added.