British royals visit 9/11 memorial in New York

9th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate braved pouring rain to visit the 9/11 memorial on Tuesday, leaving a bouquet and handwritten note in memory of the victims of the Al-Qaeda attacks.

Their visit struck a somber note in an otherwise whirlwind tour of New York that saw them hobnob with basketball superstar LeBron James, Beyonce and Jay-Z at an NBA game after William met US President Barack Obama on a solo side-trip to Washington.

The National September 11 Memorial honors the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 Al-Qaeda strikes on the World Trade Center, and six people who died in a first attack on the Twin Towers in 1993.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, shielded under large black umbrellas, paused for a moment after placing a bouquet of white lillies and roses at one of the memorial's two reflecting pools.

The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels that border the pools and built in the footprint of the Twin Towers.

Kate wore a double-breasted cerise wool silk coat fastened with black buttons from British luxury label Mulberry, over her customary thick black tights and a pair of classic black pumps.

Five months pregnant with her second child, she wore her hair pulled back in a sleek pony tail, and finished her look by wearing black gloves and carrying a small black clutch.

William wore a dark suit.

- Hollywood salute -

The royal couple were greeted by 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels and toured the museum, built into the bedrock of the Twin Towers and which documents the 2001 attacks and their legacy.

The couple spent time looking at some of the devastating wreckage that stands testament to the horror of the attacks and at the photographs of victims that cover a hall of remembrance.

The royal couple's three-day visit -- their first to America's biggest city -- is a mix of diplomacy, supporting their favorite causes and promoting British business.

Second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles, William is increasingly taking on more long-haul work for the British monarchy as Queen Elizabeth II approaches her nineties.

From the 9/11 museum, they were whisked to a youth organization that fosters artistic and intellectual development in Manhattan's upmarket Soho district, where they watched an arts performance.

They then mingled with the likes of British actor Patrick Stewart and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein at a reception to celebrate creative British talent in New York.

For the occasion, Kate wore a high-necked black maternity dress styled with a gold necklace and drop earrings.

William, and possibly his wife depending on how tired she may feel, are then expected to go up The Empire State Building, before both attend a gala dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The banquet, where Hollywood actor Tom Hanks will reportedly make a toast, is to celebrate the 600th anniversary of St Andrews University, where the couple met and fell in love.

-'King James'-

The couple, who are in the United States without their son, are expected to fly home after the dinner.

New Yorkers have welcomed the British couple with warmth and hospitality -- but also some amusement and bewilderment.

On Monday, James enthralled them with a brilliant display as he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and double Olympic gold medalist -- known as "King James" -- gave the couple a Cavaliers shirt marked Cambridge and another for their one-year-old son Prince George.

"This very moment will be forever remembered and put up in my house. It's all good and all smiles on this side," James wrote on his Instagram page next to a photo with the royal couple.

James caused consternation amongst British royal-watchers however, reportedly breaching protocol by putting a friendly arm around Kate in a post-match photo.

Jay-Z and Beyonce, who sat opposite them on the other side of the court during the game, walked over to say hello and chat for several minutes to deafening cheers from the crowd.

The couple are staying at the Carlyle Hotel, where William's mother Diana used to stay.

Their arrival has drawn comparisons with the 1985 visit made by Charles and Diana, when the princess dazzled Americans by dancing with US president Ronald Reagan and Hollywood star John Travolta.

© 2014 AFP

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