"A celebration of Britain's relationship with Israel"

Prince William Duke of Cambridge  photo: Reuters
Prince William Duke of Cambridge photo: Reuters

UK ambassador David Quarrey talks to "Globes" about the planned official visit to Israel by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the first by a British royal.

Globes: Why was it decided to hold the visit at this particular time?

"There was no specific event that led to the decision. We see this visit as a symbol and celebration of the good relationship between Britain and Israel. We have ramified ties in technology, security, mutual trade relations... the prince's visit will be an important opportunity to stress and promote these ties."

Will Prince William come alone, or will other family members accompany him?

"As far as is known at present, Prince William plans to come by himself. This the first visit by the royal family, and it should be understood that as far as the wider family is concerned, they are in a period of many family events, and so my understanding is that at this stage only the prince will come."

Prince William is part of the royal family, and in Israel we have no royalty, only elected representatives. Perhaps you would explain to us the significance of a visit of this kind from the point of view of foreign policy and political ties?

"This is not a political visit, but the arrival in Israel of the person who is second in line to the British crown, a very important person. The significance of the visit lies in the strengthening of ties between the two countries. He is not coming here to talk about political or diplomatic matters, but only to strengthen the relationship."

In the announcement you put out in Hebrew, you described the visit as including the "Palestinian Authority", whereas the English announcement from Kensington Palace stated “The Duke of Cambridge will visit Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the Summer.” Why the difference between the two texts?

"There is no difference at all from our point of view. The territories are the Occupied Territories, and the entity that runs them is the Palestinian Authority. In terms of substance, it is the same thing in our view; we see the territories as occupied, and the prince will visit there."

How long will the visit be? Will the prince visit the Wailing Wall? Will he go up to the Temple Mount, or go to East Jerusalem as well?

"The plans have not yet been finalized. We are at very preliminary stages of planning the visit. We shall now start working on the details of the visit, including its length, itinerary, and destinations. We shall make an orderly announcement towards the summer."

How long has this visit been mooted? There were reports in the British press a year ago. Was it really decided on such a long time ago?

"I don't know if it was decided on a year ago. I'm not aware of it being reported earlier than that. I can state that we have always thought about and considered making a visit to Israel. There is a special government committee called the Royal Visits Committee, and it advises the royal family on trips all over the world. They are advising on the process of the visit here."

Will the prince visit the grave of his great-grandmother who is buried on the Mount of Olives, Princess Alice von Battenberg (granddaughter of Queen Victoria, mother of Prince Philip, Prince William's grandfather, and recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations" for sheltering a Jewish family at her home in Nazi occupied Athens during World War Two), as his father Prince Charles did when he came to Israel on an unofficial visit for the funeral of the late President Shimon Peres?

"At this stage I don't know how far that will be part of the visit. We shall have to wait and see."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 1, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

Prince William Duke of Cambridge  photo: Reuters
Prince William Duke of Cambridge photo: Reuters
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