Prince William visits Jerusalem’s Old City sites to end first official royal visit
Tim Rooke/Pool/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) — The Duke of Cambridge closes out his trip to the Middle East with a visit to Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday.
Prince William started his day in East Jerusalem, which is occupied by Israel, on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the walled Old City.
Then, in the most personal and emotional stop of the day, he visited his great-grandmother’s tomb. Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was honored by Israel for sheltering Jews in Greece during World War II, and was later buried in a crypt in the Church of Mary Magdalene, the Russian Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem.
Father Archimandrite Roman, the head of the Russian Orthodox mission in Jerusalem, presented the prince with gifts — for him, a wooden cross from the 19th century; a glass royal Easter egg for Kate; and wooden Easter eggs and small wooden crosses for his three children, “so that each of them can have a cross from Jerusalem in their room,” the priest said, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
He then visited al Haram al Sharif, or the Temple Mount, which houses Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It’s the third holiest site in Islam, and he was hosted by Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director of the Islamic Waqf, which administers al Haram al Sharif.
He then walked below the compound to the Western Wall, accompanied by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.
And, finally, he accompanied religious leaders at the Church of the Holy Selpulchre.
The prince’s official itinerary lists Jerusalem as part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” frustrating Israeli officials.
Israeli officials have long expressed frustration with the British royals for not making official visits to the country despite several unofficial and more private visits. But now that the visit is finally happening, Israeli officials are concerned about the palace’s language, especially after U.S.’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
William, 36, thanked Palestinians Wednesday night for the warm welcome during the second half of his trip.
“I am also struck by how many people in the region want a just and lasting peace,” he said.
“It has been a very powerful experience to meet you and other Palestinians living in the West Bank, and to hear your stories. I hope that through my being here and understanding the challenges you face, the links of friendship and mutual respect between the Palestinian and British people will grow stronger.”
William added, “The United Kingdom stands with you, as we work together for a peaceful and prosperous future.”
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