TEL AVIV (CBSNewYork/AP) – Prince William is in Israel for the first-ever official visit by a member of the British royal family.
His arrival Monday ends the monarchy’s mostly hands-off approach to one of the world’s most sensitive regions. For the 36-year-old William, second in line to the throne, it marks a high-profile visit that could brandish his international credentials.
Though the trip is being billed as non-political, and places a special emphasis on technology and joint Israeli-Arab projects. The Duke of Cambridge will also be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and visiting landmark Jerusalem sites at the heart of the century-old conflict.
The prince arrived from Jordan, where he kicked off his five-day Middle East tour.
He’ll be staying in Jerusalem and travelling to coastal Tel Aviv and Ramallah, in the West Bank.
While in Jordan, Prince William toured the ruins of the Roman city of Jerash. Local schoolchildren welcomed him and he met with Syrian refugees from a U.N. run education program.
Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein was at William’s side and surprised the British royal with a giant photo of his wife Kate as a child. The Duchess had posed for a picture at the archaeological site in the 1980’s when she and her family lived in Jordan.
The Duke of Cambridge is the first British royal to make an official trip to Israel and Palestinian territories – 70 years after British forces withdrew from the holy land. Until now, it had been British policy not to make a formal royal visit until the bitter conflict in the region is resolved.
“He’s a young man, and I know he will be looking to the future. He will be wanting to engage with a wide section of people,” explained Philip Hall, Britain’s Consul General in Jerusalem.
An aide to Prince William says the visit is not political, but it comes as divisions between Israelis and Palestinians are deepening. Israel just marked its 70th anniversary of independence amid surges of violence along the Gaza border.
Prince William’s wife Kate stayed back in London with the couple’s three children. She gave birth to Prince Louis back in April.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)