THE 70-year taboo on members of the British Royal Family officially visiting Israel was finally broken this week as an RAF plane with Prince William on board touched down at Ben Gurion Airport.
While there was some disquiet ahead of the Duke of Cambridge’s trip over a reference in his itinerary to Jerusalem being within “Occupied Palestinian Territories”, the future king was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, who urged him to take a message of peace to his Palestinian counterpart – the Prince was due to meet Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday.
The Israeli public were also thrilled to meet the Queen’s grandson, who took a stroll along the beach in Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon and joined in an initiative that brings Jewish and Arab children together to play soccer in Jaffa.
On the final day of his visit, Thursday, the Prince was expected to visit the Old City and the Kotel, as well as the Mount of Olives where his great-grandmother is buried.
Princess Alice, the mother of Prince Philip, has been recognised as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for her efforts to save a Jewish family in Greece during the Holocaust.
Prince William visited Yad Vashem on Tuesday, writing in the visitors’ book that “It has been a profoundly moving experience”.
“It is almost impossible to comprehend this appalling event in history,” he added.
Reflecting on the impact of what he saw at Yad Vashem, the Prince continued, “Every name, photograph and memory recorded here is a tragic reminder of the unimaginable human cost of the Holocaust and the immense loss suffered by the Jewish people.
“The story of the Holocaust is one of darkness and despair, questioning humanity itself. But the actions of those few who took great risks to help others are a reminder of the human capacity for love and hope. I am honoured that my own great-grandmother is one of these righteous among the nations.”
Noting the importance of remembering the Shoah, he concluded, “We must never forget the Holocaust – the murder of six million men, women and children, simply because they were Jewish.
“We all have a responsibility to remember and to teach future generations about the horrors of the past so that they can never reoccur.
“May the millions of Jewish people remembered by Yad Vashem never be forgotten.”