The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were left 'in awe' today of the emotional impact of the memorial to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
As they toured the museum that stands next to the site of the World Trade Center where nearly 3,000 people died on September 11 2001, the duchess said she did not anticipate how moving it would be.
She said she was particularly affected by being able to touch the names of the victims inscribed around the edge of the two memorial pools that stand where the twin towers used to be.
The couple were given a tour of the museum where they wrote their electronic signatures next to a twisted piece of steel recovered from the wreckage of the twin towers.
Allison Blais, the museum’s chief of staff, said: 'She talked about how in awe she was of enormity of the space. It was something she did not anticipate. She also talked about how moving the memorial was, and being able to touch the names of the victims outside on the pools.'
Joe Daniels, the museums’s chief executive and president, said: 'You could see it really in both their eyes, the sort of care and curiosity they had for the story of what happened and the people who died that day.'
He said that one of the most moving parts of the visit came when they visited the In Memoriam room, where photographs of nearly all of the victims line the walls. As the couple gazed at the pictures of the dead, outside recorded voices intoned the names of their friends and loved ones: 'My beloved husband… my best friend… my beloved daughter.'
Mr Daniels said: 'Just looking at the faces – of the old, the young, every race, every color - they were struck by the breadth and the scale of the loss we suffered that day.'
In an inner room they heard the oral history of one of the victims, John Katsimatides, in which his sister spoke of his love of dancing and how much he loved life.
'They seemed quite struck by that,' said Mr Daniels.