THE Duke of Cambridge has visited the holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Church of St Mary Magdalene, where his great-grandmother is buried, during a five-day state visit to Jordan, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Prince William was accompanied to the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock, by the Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, on the last day of the visit, on Thursday of last week.
He had arrived in Amman, Jordan, on the previous Sunday, where he was met by Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II. The country had been a “beacon of hope” to refugees in the Middle East, Prince William said.
Speaking at a reception that evening to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday (9 June), he said: “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 long-standing commitments to Palestinian refugees, is remarkable. You should be enormously proud of what you have done. In so many ways, Jordan, as an open and stable society, is a beacon of hope for many other people in the Middle East.”
He also read out a message from the Queen, which referred to her own visit to Jordan in 1984. “In 1984, I spoke of how, for me and my people, Jordan represented not only a country where legend and history meet, but also a staunch and long-held friend,” it read. “I am pleased to say that this remains the case to this day, and our two kingdoms continue to work together in the spirit of friendship.”
Jordan is currently host to more than 655,000 refugees. Prince William later met young refugee-participants of the Makani programme, which is supported by UNICEF, before flying to Israel.
Prince William spent the morning in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, where he attended a Holocaust memorial service, before visiting youth and interfaith initiatives in the historic city of Jaffa, and greeting crowds on Tel Aviv beach. He later met the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin.
Prince William also met the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at his official residence, where the Prince spoke to Edith and Phillipe Cohen, two descendants of Holocaust survivors who had been sheltered from the Gestapo by his great-grandmother, Princess Alice von Battenberg, at her residence in Athens.
Princess Alice, the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, had worked with the Swedish and Swiss Red Cross in Greece during the Second World War, where she later founded the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary, an Orthodox nursing order of nuns.
On the final day, Prince William paid his respects at Princess Alice’s tomb at the Russian Orthodox Church of St Mary Magdalene, on the Mount of Olives. He had travelled from Ramallah in the West Bank, where he had met the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and visited the Jalazone refugee camp.
Before the visit, Kensington Palace posted on Twitter that the Duke of Cambridge was looking forward to “building a real and enduring relationship” with the people of the region.