Prince Charles tells of horror at mosque attacks as he and the Queen send their condolences to victims’ families

The horrifying attacks in Christchurch today which were live-streamed online left at least 49 people dead, causing grief and consternation across the world.

The Queen – head of state for the Commonwealth of Nations, which includes New Zealand – has today led the outpouring of grief in the wake of the sickening attacks.

She was joined by the Prince of Wales, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, who all rallied to express their support.

Prince Charles said he and Camilla were ‘utterly horrified’ by the ‘barbaric attacks’, adding that it was ‘beyond belief that so many should have been killed and injured.’

In a message to the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Queen said she was ‘deeply saddened by the appalling events’.

She also wrote: ‘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.’

In a message to the people of New Zealand, the Prince of Wales today said the ‘appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom.’

In a letter, he wrote: ‘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.’

Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: ‘On behalf of the UK, my deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand after the horrifying terrorist attack in Christchurch.

‘My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence.’

The House of Commons held a minute’s silence at 11am in solidarity with the victims. Mrs May’s ministers have also reacted with shock.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Our hearts go out to the people of New Zealand following the news of this terrible act in Christchurch.

‘New Zealand is one of the most peaceful, peace-loving and generous nations in the world. Your friends in the UK stand with you today in deepest sympathy.’

Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted he was ‘absolutely heartbroken to hear about this attack on peaceful worshippers’.

Mr Javid added: ‘We stand with New Zealand and Muslims across the world against all forms of racism and anti-Muslim hatred. We will not let extremists divide us.’

European Council President Donald Tusk described the attack as ‘harrowing news’ and said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can ‘count on our solidarity’.

He tweeted: ‘Harrowing news from New Zealand overnight. The brutal attack in Christchurch will never diminish the tolerance and decency that New Zealand is famous for.

‘Our thoughts in Europe are with the victims and their families. PM @jacindaardern can count on our solidarity.’

British police are providing ‘reassurance patrols’ around mosques following the deadly gun rampage in New Zealand.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and Britain’s top counter-terror officer said the police presence would be stepped up as people went to Friday prayers.

Mr Khan said: ‘I want to reassure the Muslim communities in London. I have been in touch with the Met Police. There will be highly visible policing around mosques today, as well as armed response officers, as Londoners go to pray.’

Neil Basu, the Met’s national policing chief for counter-terrorism, added: ‘We will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faith, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves.

‘Together with our intelligence partners we continually monitor the varied threats we face, including to and around places of worship and specific communities across the country,’ he said.