Amid meeting children and taking in a rugby game in Paris on Saturday, Prince William and Duchess Kate participated in a more somber event, meeting with survivors and first responders from the November 2015 terrorist attacks in the French capital.
During their visit to the Hôtel des Invalides, a complex that serves as a military monument as well as a hospital and military retirement home, the royal couple met with survivors from the Bataclan concert hall as well as the Stade de France and cafes and restaurants, which were all hit on Nov. 13, 2015.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terror campaign, which killed more than 120 people, 90 of whom died at the Bataclan during a show by the California band Eagles of Death Metal.
“We think you are very strong and very brave, you’ve made amazing progress,” Prince William told the survivors.
The couple spoke privately with Jessica Bambal Akan, 25, who was shot seven times while out to dinner on her birthday with friends on that fateful night, according to the U.K.'s Daily Express. One friend, Victor Munoz, was shot and killed inside the restaurant.
"We were very lucky," she said, recounting the fates of the members of the party who were seated outside. "We all got shot and we all survived."
She told the royals that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, she "was a bit shy and didn't want to talk about it, because of all of the pain and grief. But now I want to say we are not only victims, we have lives, we have boyfriends, girlfriends, work. I want to speak about my friend who died to honor him. I want people to remember who he was."
After Bambal Akan said that she hoped to get into the fashion industry once her recovery is complete, Duchess Kate, Britain's top fashion icon, said she'd keep an eye out for her work.
Prince William and Duchess Kate also heard from a 28-year-old fireman named Kevin, who was shot twice in the leg while attending the Eagles of Death Metal show at the Bataclan.
"Anyone who shouted was shot, so I tried to be as quiet as possible," he recalled.
Afterward, he described his meeting with the royals as a "very positive experience, because I was able to speak about this experience and what I went through. It feels very important to tell these stories and be listened to."
Copyright USA Today