UK

Prince William visits ancient city in Jordan during royal tour

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe Duke of Cambridge met Syrian refugee children during a visit to Jerash

The Duke of Cambridge has spent the day in Jordan - the first stop on his five-day visit to the Middle East.

Prince William visited the ancient city of Jerash where he met young people helped by a charity refugee programme.

His wife, Catherine, visited the ancient ruins during the 1980s when she lived in Jordan as a child.

Later, the prince, 36, landed in Tel Aviv for the first official royal visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The duke and the Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II - who on Sunday watched the England football match together - arrived at Jerash, the ruins of a Roman city dating from the first century.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jerash is a major tourist attraction in Jordan

The Duchess of Cambridge was photographed there as a girl with her father, Michael Middleton, and sister, Pippa, during a visit in the 1980s.

She moved to Jordan in 1984 when she was two years old, after her father, a British Airways manager, relocated to the capital of Amman. She spent nearly three years there and attended an English language nursery.

Image copyright The Middleton Family
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge aged four with her father Michael and sister Pippa
Image copyright Kensington Palace
Image caption The father-of-three posed in the same spot

The duke said on Sunday that his wife "loved" living in the country, adding: "She is very upset that I am coming here without her."

Prince William was photographed in the same spot, adding: "Need to come back with the family for this shot."

He laughed when he was shown an enlarged copy of the photograph and said: "Michael's looking very smart in his flip-flops."

Plan to strengthen UK-Jordan links

By Jonny Dymond, BBC royal correspondent

This was the "safe" part of this trip before the duke moves to more politically sensitive lands. 24 hours on the ground in Jordan, an evening with the Crown Prince, a speech at the ambassador's residence, and not much in the way of public engagement.

Wherever he could Prince William went out of his way to meet not just the country's leaders but the country's people - children, refugees from Syria, women who have worked together to make life better.

Britain has strong ties with Jordan and their respective royal families have been friends for decades. Part of the plan was to strengthen those links.

But this was also a opportunity for Prince William to learn, and to throw a spotlight on causes he cares about.

And, judging by the enthusiasm with which he was greeted and the smiles he left behind, he may have made a few fans in the process.

Samia Khouri, director of museums at Jordan's Department of Antiquities, guided the two princes on a half-hour tour of the ancient site.

She said: "He was very surprised when he saw the photo, he did not expect that. But that's why he was here, because he wanted to take a photo at the same spot where Kate was photographed."

During the visit to Jerash, the prince met Syrian refugee children benefitting from Unicef's Makani programme, which offers psychological support for parents and children from deprived backgrounds, especially refugee communities.

Image copyright Kensington Palace
Image caption Prince William met a group of Syrian and Jordanian children at the archaeological site
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The duke had previously said he "greatly admired" Jordanians' resilience in the face of humanitarian challenges

At a garden party in honour of the Queen's official birthday on Sunday, he told an audience of Jordanians: "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."

He also visited a military base of the Quick Reaction Force - formed with British military support - to meet members of Jordan's armed forces.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince William visited a charity supporting women with training and work opportunities

Later, the duke visited the Dar Na'mah Centre, part of a charitable project set up by Jordan's Princess Taghrid to help orphaned girls establish their own livelihoods after they turn 18.

After being shown the textiles, herbal oils and breads they make, Prince William was introduced to Lana Muslam, 29, who was abandoned as a baby and grew up in an orphanage.

He told her: "The story is very hard to hear, everything that you have been through. You are doing wonderful things here."

During Prince William's five-day tour of the region, he will meet both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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.

There has been an upsurge of violence across the Israel-Gaza border in recent weeks, with more than 100 Palestinians killed during protests and dozens of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.

More on this story