Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, landed in Israel early on Monday evening, kicking off the first-ever official visit by a member of the British royal family since the end of the British Mandate and founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
William arrived on a Royal Air Force plane from Jordan, where he spent the first leg of his five-day visit to the Middle East. He was greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin before departing for Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, where he stayed the night.
The visit has been characterized by British officials as completely apolitical, though William is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The Duke is not a political figure,” UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey told reporters. “He’ll be here to see a little bit of the country and to get to meet some of the people here. And also to get a flavor of Israel, to see what’s happening here, some of the extraordinary successes in technology, some of the great culture here.”
On Tuesday, William visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Together with Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, he visited the museum, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance and visited the Children’s Memorial.
During his visit the prince was also scheduled to meet with Paul Alexander and Henry Foner, two survivors of the Kindertransport, a rescue effort that helped bring thousands of Jewish children from across Europe to Britain prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Later on Tuesday, William met Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, at their official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street.
He then traveled to the President’s Residence for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, before heading from Jerusalem to Jaffa for a soccer match between Jewish and Arab Israeli children. The match took place at Neve Golan Stadium and was organized by The Equalizer and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.
Prince William is also scheduled to attend a demonstration on local innovation at British Ambassador David Quarrey’s official residence in Ramat Gan, where he will hear from representatives of ReWalk Robotics, the pioneering Israeli company that makes a robotic exoskeleton to get people with spinal-cord injuries on their feet.
Artificial vision device company OrCam Technologies was also selected to participate in the event.
On Wednesday morning, the prince has two events in Tel Aviv – one a meeting with young Israelis at the city’s Beit Ha’ir Museum and the other a yet-unannounced cultural event. He is also set to meet with Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.
He is then scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah.
According to UK Consul General in Jerusalem Philip Hall, William will also attend “events focusing on the issues facing refugee communities, opportunities to celebrate Palestinian culture, music and food, and a chance to meet a number of young Palestinians.”
In the evening, he will attend a reception hosted by the British consulate general, where he is scheduled to speak.
On Thursday, William is expected to visit the Mount of Olives as well as the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Mary Magdalene to visit the grave of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. The princess is recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” for saving Jews in Greece during World War II.
While members of the royal family have never made official state visits to Israel, Prince William’s father Prince Charles was in Israel twice – once to attend the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and once for the funeral of Shimon Peres in 2016. During his 2016 trip, Charles also visited the grave of his grandmother, Princess Alice.
Though not confirmed, he is also expected to tour several religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall.
William is scheduled to fly back to Britain in the early afternoon Thursday.