Prince William has arrived in Jordan for the start of a trip that will see him become the first member of Britain’s royal family to pay an official visit to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge touched down in Amman for a first leg billed as a chance to bond with Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, 23, a fellow graduate of Britain’s Royal Sandhurst Military Academy.
He was given a warm welcome by the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah – stepping in for his father King Abdullah of Jordan who is currently on a working visit to Washington, DC., accompanied by Queen Rania – after disembarking his official British government plane shortly after 4pm local time.
Blue skies and blazing sunshine greeted the prince for the start of the trip that he is said to be ‘very much looking forward to’. William, who wore a navy suit, white shirt and sky blue spotted tie, will be travelling around Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories on behalf of the British Government.
Dozens of soldiers stood to attention in front of the British and Jordanian national flags, signifying the hugely important visit which Kensington Palace has said will ‘build relationships which will last for decades to come’.
William looked relaxed and smiled broadly as he walked alongside the the Crown Prince down a red carpet which had been rolled out to welcome him as he stepped onto the tarmac of the Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital.
Later tonight he will attend a Queen’s birthday party at the residence of Britain’s ambassador to Jordan, Edward Oakden.
The Duchess of Cambridge has not accompanied her husband on the trip as she is on maternity leave following the birth of their third child Prince Louis.
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.’
During his two day visit to Jordan, Prince William will visit the archeological site of Jerash as well as some education related projects and the British army base near the capital.
The second in line to the British throne will then head to Israel Monday evening to begin his history-making visit to the Jewish state and occupied West Bank.
He will hold talks with both Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Kensington Palace has underlined the ‘non-political nature of His Royal Highness’s role – in common with all royal visits overseas’, but the region is a minefield of sensitivities.
The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington’s embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and deadly clashes.
Prince William’s visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestine
SUNDAY 24th JUNE
Arrival in Amman
Tour of FabLab, an initiative of The Crown Prince Foundation, designed to enable young people to explore advance technology
Queen’s Birthday Party at the Residence of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Jordan
MONDAY 25th JUNE
Visit to Jerash Archaeological site
Visit to the Jordan Armed Forces Arab Army base to see how UK armed forces are working with the Jordanian military.
A tour of the Princess Taghrid Institute, which helps local women and communities to support and train young people, women and orphans.
Engagement at Al Quds, a vocational training college with links to the Middlesex University, offering technical and vocational training for young Jordanian and Syrian refugee students.
Air Ambulance inspection at Mark Airport
Travel to Israel for official welcome
TUESDAY 26th JUNE
Visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum
Audience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Audience with President Reuven Rivlin
Visit to the Equaliser football programme, Jaffa
British Embassy Garden Reception
WEDNESDAY 27th JUNE
Tech and Young People Event at the Beit Ha’ir Museum, Tel Aviv
Meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian youth drama and musical performances
Reception at the residence of the British Consul-General in Jerusalem with representatives from Palestinian civil society, business, culture, and government
THURSDAY 28th JUNE
Visit to viewing point on the Mount of Olives
Visit to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene to pay respects at the tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice
Britain governed the region under a League of Nations mandate for almost three decades until Israel’s independence 70 years ago, and is still blamed by both sides for sowing the seeds of a conflict that continues to wrack the region.
Ahead of William’s arrival, the official schedule’s reference to east Jerusalem as ‘in the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ sparked particular anger among some right-wing Israeli politicians.
Official visits by British royals take place at the request of the UK government, but statements from the prince’s household have given little explanation for the timing of this trip.
Israel has long pushed for an official visit by a member of the British monarchy.
Other members of William’s family – including his father Prince Charles – have made unofficial visits to Israel and east Jerusalem in the past.
During the trip, William will have plenty of reminders of the British role in the region.
In Jerusalem he will stay at the King David hotel, which was Britain’s administrative headquarters during its rule of Palestine prior to Israeli statehood in 1948.
In 1946 militant Jews waging violent resistance against British rule bombed the building, killing and wounding scores of people, many of them British civil servants or military personnel.
A packed schedule will also see William meet with young people, British servicemen and Syrian refugees while in Jordan.
In Israel he will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
He will visit the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and pay tribute at the tomb of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Greece, who was honoured by Israel for sheltering Jews during World War II.
In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah he is also set to meet Palestinian refugees and youths.