Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and direct heir to the throne, will come to Israel at the end of June for the first-ever visit by a member of the British royal family. Since the establishment of Israel, the British royal family has refrained from official visits but prominent members have been here in a 'private' capacity.
The UK government, which must approve official visits, has been reluctant to let the royals make such trips in the past due to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, last November, the British government hosted major celebrations to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog and subsequently announced that Prince William would make an official visit to Israel.
Prince William, grandson to Queen Elizabeth, will arrive in Amman, Jordan on June 24 and visit the historic city of Jerash the following day. On the evening of June 25 he will come to Tel Aviv and the following day will be spent in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. June 27 will be spent in Tel Aviv and Ramallah in the West Bank and June 28, the final day of the trip will be devoted entirely to Jerusalem.
Further details about the places the prince will visit and the people he will meet have yet to be disclosed and it is unclear where he will stay during the visit. He will not be accompanied by his wife who gave birth to their third child earlier this year. The British royal family is currently at the peak of popularity after last week's high-profile wedding between Prince William's younger brother Prince Harry and the US actress Meghan Markle.
The visit has no major diplomatic significance other than helping warm up relations between Israel and the UK government and people. Even so the Prime Minister's Office, Foreign Ministry and President attribute major importance to the visit.
In the past, there have been isolated unofficial visits - Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth's oldest son and heir to the throne (and Prince William's father) has twice visited Israel for state funerals (Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres). Prince Philip, the Queen's husband has attended a ceremony at Yad Vashem. However, Queen Elizabeth II herself, the UK monarch who has made the most state visits of any monarch in history, has never visited Israel. Several years ago, Prince Charles attended the funeral of Shimon Peres in Israel, and took advantage of his visit to go to the Mount of Olives and visit the Church of Mary Magdalene, where his grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, the mother of Prince Philip, the Queen's consort, is buried. Princess Alice was recognized as a Righteous among the Nations for saving a Greek Jewish family during the Holocaust.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 25, 2018
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