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Duke of Cambridge to visit Israel, Kensington Palace announces

It will be the first state to Israel visit by a member of the Royal Family

    Duke of Cambridge
    Duke of Cambridge

    Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is to visit Israel this summer, it has been announced.

    Kensington Palace revealed this morning that he would travel to the country, and the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

    It is not known whether Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will accompany him. She is due to give birth in April, so it is unlikely she will join her husband.

    It will be the first state visit to Israel by a member of the Royal Family in the country's 70-year history.

    No member of the Royal Family has made an official trip to Israel since it was established in 1948, despite a series of invitations from the Israeli government.

     

    In a statement this morning the Palace said: "The Duke of Cambridge will visit Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the summer.

    "The visit is at the request of Her Majesty's Government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities."

    Mark Regev, Israel's ambassador to Britain, said: "Israel looks forward to welcoming His Royal Highness this summer, for what promises to be an exciting and historic visit.

    In March last year the Foreign Office declined to comment on whether a member of the Royal Family would travel to Israel in 2017 to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. 

    ANALYSIS: This visit offers boundless opportunities to delight and offend

    Reuven Rivlin, Israeli president, had issued an invitation during a meeting with Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in Jerusalem.

    Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, said: "We welcome the announcement on the arrival of Prince William to Israel. This is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and it will be greeted here with great affection.

    "I have instructed the Foreign Ministry director general to coordinate the preparations ahead of the visit in order to ensure its success."

    This morning President Rivlin tweeted: "Nechama & I were happy to hear @KensingtonRoyal announcement, and look forward to welcoming #PrinceWilliam, the Duke of Cambridge, on an official visit to the State of #Israel later this year.

    "A very special guest, and a very special present for our 70th year of independence."

    Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: "The visit of HRH The Duke of Cambridge to Israel later this year will be a proud moment for the British Jewish community and a wonderful way to celebrate its 70th anniversary."

    Jonathan Arkush, Board of Deputies president, said: "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.

    "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.”

    Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “There can be few better ways to mark the 70th Yom Ha’atzmaut than the announcement the HRH the Duke of Cambridge is to visit Israel. I am personally thrilled and delighted. Having worked closely with the Duke during my time at the FA, I know that he will be fascinated and interested and will make a lasting impression on all those he meets.”

    Prince Charles has been to Israel on unofficial visits a number of times – most recently in 2016 for the funeral of Shimon Peres.

    While there, the Prince of Wales visited his grandmother’s grave on the Mount of Olives.

    Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was initially buried at Windsor Castle, where she had spent the last two years of her life.

    However, her last request had been to be buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In 1988, her body was reinterred at the convent of St Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives.

    In 1994, Princess Alice was recognised by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, for her role in protecting Jews in Greece during World War Two.

    Prince Phillip attended the ceremony, becoming the first member of the Royal Family to visit Israel, albeit unofficially.

    The social media reaction was immediate:

    More soon on this breaking news story

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