UK

Prince William makes historic visit to Middle East

Prince William at the British ambassador's residence in Jordan Image copyright Reuters
Image caption At a garden party for the Queen's birthday, Prince William hailed Jordan's support for refugees

Prince William has begun a five-day tour of the Middle East, including the first official royal visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Duke of Cambridge is scheduled to meet both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

He arrived in Jordan on Sunday, meeting Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II in Amman.

Kensington Palace said the "historic nature" of the tour was "important".

The trip comes as Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, and amid a rise in tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

Israeli forces launched air strikes on Palestinian militant positions in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after rockets and mortars were fired into Israel.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prince William is expected to visit Jerusalem's Old City

During his visit to Israel, the Duke of Cambridge will visit the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre and lay a wreath where ashes of victims of the Holocaust are buried.

He is expected to visit Jerusalem's Old City and the grave of Princess Alice of Greece, his great-grandmother and the Duke of Edinburgh's mother.

Prince Phillip visited the grave in 1994 when a ceremony honoured her for saving Greek Jews during the Second World War.

After visiting a technology lab in the capital, Amman, Prince William attended a garden party marking the Queen's birthday.

He told an audience of prominent Jordanians: "I greatly admire the resilience you in Jordan have shown in the face of the many security and humanitarian challenges that have confronted you as a result of conflicts in this region.

"The way in which you opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, not to mention your longstanding commitments to Palestinian refugees, is remarkable."

'The prince wanders among the bones of Empire'

By Jonny Dymond, royal correspondent

The Duke of Cambridge is embarking upon an historic tour of the Middle East - visiting both Israel and the Palestinian territories - in a trip in which ironies and sensitivities will abound.

The Royal Family is keenly aware of its own history. Prince William is this week visiting a region that rarely forgets its past.

When Palestine slipped from the hands of an exhausted and broken post-war Britain in 1948, the Prince's great-grandfather George VI was on the throne.

Read more from Jonny Dymond here.

The duke will also visit Ramallah in the West Bank, where he will focus on issues facing refugee communities, as well as meeting Mr Abbas.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "The historic nature of this tour is of course important and the duke considers it a great privilege to be undertaking the first ever official royal tour of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and to be able to help further strengthen the friendship between Jordan and the United Kingdom."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prince William was welcomed by Jordan's Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II

Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, missed England's high-scoring match against Panama for the trip.

He later watched the game with the Jordanian Crown Prince, who had recorded the match. He successfully avoided finding out the score after asking reporters not to update him on the result.

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