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By PEOPLE.COM/Stephanie Petit
Mar 19, 2019 @ 12:45 pm

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are sharing their condolences with the grieving country of New Zealand, which recently welcomed them with open arms.

Wearing all black and walking hand-in-hand, the couple, who are expecting their first child in April, made a surprise visit to New Zealand House in London on Tuesday afternoon to sign a book of condolences for the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack in Christchurch, where 50 people died and dozens more were injured after a gunman opened fire on two mosques. A 28-year-old man has since been charged with murder.

Meghan wrote: “Our deepest condolences. We are with you.” Harry signed his name with “Arohanui,” which is Maori for “best wishes.”

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As the couple arrived, they were greeted with a hongi (traditional nose rub) by High Commissioner Sir Jerry Mateparae and Deputy High Commissioner David Evans. Harry and Meghan were asked to represent the royal family because they are the most recent royal visitors to New Zealand.

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On Friday, Kensington Palace issued a joint statement on behalf of Prince William, Kate Middleton, Harry, and Meghan, where the royal couples referred to the “senseless attacks” as a “horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship.”

Both couples previously spent time in Christchurch, where two mosques were attacked. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were last there in 2014, while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — who are expecting their first child in April — recently visited in October 2018 as part of their 16-day royal tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the devastating attack in Christchurch,” the lengthy statement began, alongside a photo of the New Zealand flag.

“We have all been fortunate to spend time in Christchurch and have felt the warm, open-hearted and generous spirit that is core to its remarkable people,” they wrote. “No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship.”

“This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community. It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship,” the royal foursome continued.

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“We know that from this devastation and deep mourning, the people of New Zealand will unite to show that such evil can never defeat compassion and tolerance.”

Wrapping up their heartfelt note, the royal couples said they were sending thoughts and prayers to the people of New Zealand and finished with “Kia Kaha” — a Māori phrase that means “stay strong,” which is often used by New Zealanders as an affirmation.

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