The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the people of New Zealand following the Christchurch mosque shootings which left 49 people dead.
In her message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy, the Queen said her prayers were with all New Zealanders.
The Queen said in her message: “I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today. Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives.
“I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.
“At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”
The country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the killings as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, adding: “What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Right-wing extremist Brenton Tarrant, 28, from Australia, appeared to have live-streamed the terror attack in Christchurch and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.
New Zealand’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, said 49 people were confirmed dead and that a man in his late 20s had been charged with murder.
The Queen is head of state in New Zealand and the monarchy has strong ties with the country, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visiting the Commonwealth nation last autumn.
The Prince of Wales, who visited New Zealand in 2015 with the Duchess of Cornwall, also sent words of sympathy to the country’s citizens.
He said: “Both my wife and I were utterly horrified to hear of the most barbaric attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, which resulted in the cruel and tragic loss of so many people’s lives.
“It is beyond all belief that so many should have been killed and injured at their place of worship and our most special and heartfelt sympathy goes out to all the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives.
“This appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom, tolerance, compassion and community. I know that the people of New Zealand will never allow hate and division to triumph over these things they hold dear.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families, the first responders, the people of Christchurch and all New Zealanders at this most heartbreaking of times.”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also issued a message of sympathy.
They said: “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the devastating attack in Christchurch.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“We send our thoughts and prayers to everyone in New Zealand today.”