TEL AVIV – Britain’s Prince William had a poignant last day in the Holy Land, with a visit to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the grave of his great-grandmother on the Mount of Olives.
Donning a yarmulke, the prince looked reflective as he stood with his right hand on the stones of the Western Wall. He also put a note between the stones as is customary and signed a guestbook with the message, “May the God of peace bless this region and all the world with peace.”
“Today we experienced a moment of history which will live long in the memory of Jews around the world,” said the Chief Rabbi of Britain Ephraim Mirvis, who accompanied the prince during his visit. “The Western Wall stands at the epicenter of our faith. To see the future monarch come to pay his respects was a remarkable gesture of friendship and a sign of the duke’s regard for the sanctity of Jerusalem.”
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The prince also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and received special dispensation to enter the Dome of the Rock, despite the fact that he is not Muslim.
The prince also visited the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg on the Mount of Olives. Princess Alice was honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as a “righteous among the nations” for saving a Jewish family during the Holocaust.
The prince’s trip was the first official visit by a member of the royal family since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
The visit sparked a minor controversy when Kensington Palace used the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” to describe William’s visit to Jerusalem’s Old City.
UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey defended the decision, saying that all “the terminology that was used in the program was consistent with years of practice by British governments. It’s consistent with British government policy.”
The prince also drew criticism for referring to “our two countries” during his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
He also reportedly refused a request for a sitdown in Jerusalem with its mayor Nir Barkat.
On Wednesday, he spent the afternoon in Tel Aviv on the beach with the city’s mayor Ron Huldai, followed by a stroll on the famed Rothschild Boulevard with Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.