Prince William due in Israel, PA on June 25 for first ever official royal visit
search

Prince William due in Israel, PA on June 25 for first ever official royal visit

During trip to Jordan, Israel and West Bank, Duke of Cambridge to meet Netanyahu, Rivlin and Abbas — and may get inked in Jerusalem’s Old City

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, carries his message to hang on a "tree of hope" as he leaves after attending The Manchester Arena National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral in central Manchester on May 22, 2018. (AFP/ Oli SCARFF)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, carries his message to hang on a "tree of hope" as he leaves after attending The Manchester Arena National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral in central Manchester on May 22, 2018. (AFP/ Oli SCARFF)

Marking the first-ever visit to Israel by a member of Great Britain’s royal family, Prince William will arrive in Tel Aviv on Monday, June 25, Kensington Palace announced in a statement released early on Friday.

Besides Israel, the Duke of Cambridge will also visit Jordan and the Palestinian territories. “The visit is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government and has been welcomed by the Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian authorities,” the statement read.

The prince, the second in line to the British throne, will arrive in Amman on Sunday, June 24. The next day he will have more meetings in the Jordanian capital before heading to to the city of Jerash and then to Tel Aviv.

On Tuesday, he will have meetings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, according to Kensington Palace. He will continue to have meetings in both Israeli cities on Wednesday, and also make a quick visit to Ramallah. The trip ends on Thursday with appointments in Jerusalem.

Details about the meetings were not immediately available.

“Full details of His Royal Highness’s programme will be announced in due course,” the palace said.

Sketching out his possible itinerary, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, known as BICOM, said the visit will likely mix official meetings, family history and religion.

“While the itinerary for the trip has not been finalised, it is likely that the Duke of Cambridge will be met by a senior Israeli Government Minister at his arrival at Ben Gurion airport for a short welcoming ceremony,” the group wrote in a briefing. 

“William will have a meeting, potentially lunch or dinner, at the Prime Minister’s residence; a formal meeting with President Rivlin; a visit to Yad Vashem with an official ceremony; and a likely journey to the Mount of Olives to the grave of Prince Philip’s mother and possibly to the British War Memorial on Mount Scopus. He may also arrange an event related to civil society or coexistence.”

The prince is expected to visit some Christian holy sites in Jerusalem Old City, such as the Anglican St. George’s Cathedral, which was established in 1899, and other sites, “although these would likely be under the framework of a ‘private tour,’” according to BICOM.

A private tour allows visiting dignitaries to tour sites in the Old City, which is across the Green Line in East Jerusalem, while sidestepping the prickly issue of recognizing a sovereign to have an official accompany them. US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulchre last year was officially listed as a private visit.

East Jerusalem’s Anglican Cathedral of St. George. (Shmuel Bar-Am)

“During his time in the West Bank the Prince will have a formal meeting with Abbas and is likely to visit Bethlehem, potentially visiting the Church of the Nativity,” the briefing read.

UK Ambassador to Jordan Edward Oakden said William’s trip to Jordan will be a “strong” opportunity to enhance historic ties between the two countries, adding that the prince will meet senior officials in what he termed a “politics-free” visit, according to BICOM.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip spent five days in Jordan in 1984, but have never visit Israel or the Palestinian territories.

Indeed, no member of the Royal family has officially visited Israel, and none has officially visited the Holy Land since the 1880s, though Princes Philip, Charles and Edward have all made private visits to Israel, the BICOM briefing notes.

The last royal visit took place in 2016, when Prince Charles — William’s father — attended the funeral of former president Shimon Peres and visited his grandmother’s grave at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

On Thursday, Charles was the guest of honor at Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations on Thursday at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall.

The Jerusalem Cross

In the last 19th century, three British princes — Albert Edward, Albert Victor and George — visited the Holy Land, which at the time was part of the Ottoman empire. All three of them and had the so-called Jerusalem Cross tattooed on their arms.

The tattoos were given by the Razzouk family, Coptic Christians who came to Jerusalem in 1750 to ink pilgrims and who still run the Old City’s best known tattoo parlor.

William may step in his ancestors’ footsteps and get a tattoo as well, some have speculated.

William’s visit was first announced on March, though no details were released.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the announcement at the time.

“This is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and he will be welcomed here with great affection,” Netanyahu added. “I have ordered the Foreign Ministry director-general to coordinate preparations for the visit to ensure its success.”President Reuven Rivlin said he and his wife Nechama were “happy” to hear the announcement and look forward to welcoming Prince William.

“A very special guest, and a very special present for our 70th year of independence,” he wrote on Twitter.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas also welcomed “this important visit, which we hope will contribute to strengthening ties of friendship between the two peoples.”

The visit was also applauded by the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush.

“We are delighted that in the year of Israel’s 70th anniversary, the Duke of Cambridge will be making the first official royal visit to the country,” Arkush said in a statement.

“This is something I have been calling for for a long time. The visit is testimony to the fact that the UK and Israel are key allies with a strong trading relationship and close cultural links. This visit will bring our two nations even closer together,” he added.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more:
comments