Prince William kicks it on Tel Aviv beach, kicks ball around with kids
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Prince William kicks it on Tel Aviv beach, kicks ball around with kids

Visiting royal eats watermelon, meets fans on boardwalk after scoring easy goals at Jewish-Arab coexistence game

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Britain's Prince William, center-right, prepares to kick a ball as he meets with Jewish and Arab children at the Neve Golan Stadium in Jaffa, June 26, 2018. (Heidi Levine/AFP)
    Britain's Prince William, center-right, prepares to kick a ball as he meets with Jewish and Arab children at the Neve Golan Stadium in Jaffa, June 26, 2018. (Heidi Levine/AFP)
  • Britain's Prince William, right, reaches out to a person as reporters and beach-goers swarm around him, during a visit to a beach in the coastal Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, June 26, 2018. (Menahem KAHANA/AFP)
    Britain's Prince William, right, reaches out to a person as reporters and beach-goers swarm around him, during a visit to a beach in the coastal Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, June 26, 2018. (Menahem KAHANA/AFP)
  • Britain's Prince William (R) high-fives a beach volleyball player during a visit with the mayor of Tel Aviv in the coastal city on June 26, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / MENAHEM KAHANA)
    Britain's Prince William (R) high-fives a beach volleyball player during a visit with the mayor of Tel Aviv in the coastal city on June 26, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / MENAHEM KAHANA)
  • Prince William seen with Israeli footvolley players at Frishman beach in Tel Aviv, on June 26, 2018. (Niv Aharonson/POOL)
    Prince William seen with Israeli footvolley players at Frishman beach in Tel Aviv, on June 26, 2018. (Niv Aharonson/POOL)
  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, seen at Frischman beach in Tel Aviv, on June 26, 2018. (Niv Aharonson/POOL)
    Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, seen at Frischman beach in Tel Aviv, on June 26, 2018. (Niv Aharonson/POOL)

Royals, they’re just like us! Kind of.

Visiting British Prince William took a break from his busy schedule of meeting dignitaries and being feted to take a stroll on Tel Aviv’s beach and played a game of footie with a group of Jewish and Arab kids.

Sauntering down Tel Aviv’s Frishman beach, a smiling William shook hands with crowds of well-wishers and slurped down watermelon under a public pergola on the sand with a group of young Israelis.

“It’s a fantastic beach,” declared the Duke of Cambridge, keeping his cool in the 30° C heat despite sporting a button-down long sleeved shirt (rolled up), long pants, and closed shoes.

Britain’s Prince William, right, reaches out to a person as reporters and beach-goers swarm around him, during a visit to a beach in the coastal Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, June 26, 2018. (Menahem KAHANA/AFP)

Trailed by crowds craning to see him, William, who is making the first-ever official trip to Israel by a British royal, chatted with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and inspected a lifeguard lookout hut.

He also learned about the game of footvolley, a sandy hybrid of soccer and beach volleyball.

The duke arrived in Israel on Monday after spending a day and a half in Jordan.

Britain’s Prince William, center, walks with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, left, as they visit a beach in the coastal Mediterranean city on June 26, 2018. (Menahem KAHANA/AFP)

The beach trip had been kept carefully under wraps, with the official itinerary saying only the prince would “travel to central Tel Aviv for an event that will be announced during the visit.”

Earlier in nearby Jaffa, William kicked around a soccer ball with  Jewish and Arab youths as part of an event promoting co-existence.

The Aston Villa fan took several penalty kicks, calmly slotting one home low and to the left, just eluding the goalkeeper with a second, and having a third saved, as kids watched, oohed and aahed.

Britain’s Prince William, center-right, prepares to kick a ball as he meets with Jewish and Arab children at the Neve Golan Stadium in Jaffa, June 26, 2018. (Heidi Levine/AFP)

The event at Neve Golan Stadium in Jaffa was organized by The Equalizer coexistence advocacy group and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, which often brings celebrities for soccer games.

With the World Cup in Russia fueling football fever, soccer has become a theme of the visit. In Jordan, William managed to avoid hearing about the results of the England-Panama match on Sunday until he could watch the shellacking with that country’s crown prince in his luxe prince cave.

Before heading to Tel Aviv on Tuesday, William talked English football with President Reuven Rivlin, and gave the president a shirt from Liverpool, the president’s English club of choice, signed by club legend and former team captain Steven Gerrard.

“Israel kept many of the British customs and laws from the Mandate, but we did not manage to keep the same level of British football, I know you are a fan of Aston Villa, and I am a fan of Liverpool, but we can still talk about that during the World Cup,” Rivlin, who used to be the president of the Jerusalem Beitar soccer club, told his royal guest.

Prince William gives President Rivlin a Liverpool shirt, June 26, 2018. (Mark Neiman, GPO)

The president presented the duke with a gift from the archives of the Yad Ben-Zvi Museum, a copy of an album of photographs taken between 1850 and 1865 by Elizabeth Ann Finn, wife of the then British Consul in Jerusalem, a spokesperson said in a statement.

The album included photographs of a visit to the Holy Land by HRH Prince Edward – later crowned King Edward VII – who was the Duke of Cambridge’s great-great-great-grandfather. The volume also had a description of Prince Edward’s visit penned at the time by journalist Yosef Rivlin, who was President Rivlin’s great-grandfather. Soccer did not feature prominently.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also mentioned soccer among the topics the two discussed.

Prince William meets and talks soccer with Jewish and Arab kids in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, June 26, 2018. (Peres Center For Peace & Innovation)

Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, is scheduled to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the duke is to tour Jerusalem’s Old City, where he is expected to visit the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Al-Aqsa Mosque, though these visits have not been officially confirmed.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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