The UK’s King Charles III has reportedly signaled interest in a trip to Israel, which would make him the first British monarch to visit the Jewish state.
The British Daily Mail on Sunday quoted a diplomatic source who said that the king has “made it clear in recent years that he is not afraid to go to Israel and will not allow being the monarch prevent him from returning in that role.”
Conservative politician Lord Polak, who previously served as director of Conservative Friends of Israel, told the Mail that initial preparations for the trip were already underway.
“There is no doubt that Charles will be the one to break this pattern. The preparation has been done by his team to pave the way for this visit,” Polak said.
President Isaac Herzog is believed to be personally involved in the effort to bring Charles to Israel, the report said, adding that the Israeli head of state told the British monarch that the recent flareup in Gaza presented a “stumbling block” for setting a date last week.
The report said Charles would also meet with Palestinian leadership in the West Bank if he travels to the region, in order to forestall controversy.
Charles visited Israel three times before becoming king.
Throughout her decades on the British throne, his mother, Queen Elizabeth, cultivated amicable ties with Jewish communal figures as well as cordial relations with Israeli leaders. But though she paid official visits to dozens of countries throughout her tenure, she never visited the State of Israel.
In fact, no member of the royal family ever visited Israel in an official capacity until 2018, when Prince William arrived in the Jewish state on an unprecedented official visit, lifting the unofficial boycott.
Prince Philip made a personal visit to Israel in 1994 to honor his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. And Prince Charles visited Israel in 1995 and 2016 to attend the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. Those stays were not, however, official royal visits.
The decades-long refusal of the royal family to undertake an official visit to the State of Israel – while having no such hesitations over trips to authoritarian monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar – irked many Israeli politicians and members of the British Jewish community.
An anonymous British government official told The Telegraph in 2015 that “until there is a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the royal family can’t really go there.” Though many British leaders, including prime ministers, had paid visits to the Jewish state, the official claimed that “in Israel, so much politics is caught up in the land itself that it’s best to avoid those complications altogether by not going there.”
Despite the snub, the queen still enjoyed close ties to and loyalty from British Jews and also met with many visiting Israeli dignitaries during her decades on the throne.