Prince William arrived Sunday in Jordan at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge was greeted at Amman’s Marka military airport by Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, a fellow graduate of Britain’s Royal Sandhurst Military Academy, who is hosting William for the two-day visit in Jordan.
The second in line to the British throne will then head to Israel Monday evening to begin his history-making visit to the Jewish state and West Bank.
He will hold talks with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Kensington Palace has underlined the “nonpolitical nature of His Royal Highness’s role — in common with all royal visits overseas.”
Prince William arrives in Jordan to be greeted by the Crown Prince, ahead of the first official Royal visit to Israel and Palestine.
— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) June 24, 2018
But the region is a minefield of sensitivities.
The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington’s embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and amid deadly clashes.
Britain governed the region under a League of Nations mandate for almost three decades until Israel’s independence 70 years ago.
Ahead of William’s arrival, the official schedule’s reference to East Jerusalem as “in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” sparked anger among some right-wing Israeli politicians.
Official visits by British royals take place at the request of the UK government, but statements from the prince’s household have given little explanation for the timing of this trip.
Israel has long pushed for an official visit by a member of the British monarchy.
Other members of William’s family — including his father Prince Charles — have made unofficial visits to Israel in the past.
During the trip, William will have plenty of reminders of the British role in the region.
In Jerusalem he will stay at the King David hotel, which was Britain’s administrative headquarters during its rule of Palestine prior to Israeli statehood in 1948. In 1946 Jew terrorists waging violent resistance against British rule bombed the building, killing and wounding scores of people, many of them British civil servants or military personnel.
A packed schedule will also see William meet with young people, British servicemen and Syrian refugees while in Jordan.
In Israel he will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
He will visit the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and pay tribute at the tomb of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Greece, who was honored by Israel for sheltering Jews during World War II.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah he is also scheduled to meet Palestinian refugees and youths.