Prince William Tours Jerash, Follows His Wife Footsteps in Jordan

Published June 25th, 2018 - 12:39 GMT
Prince William tours ruins of the Roman city of Jerash, a major tourist attraction and a spot his wife visited as a child when her family lived in the Kingdom in the 1980s (Shutterstock)
Prince William tours ruins of the Roman city of Jerash, a major tourist attraction and a spot his wife visited as a child when her family lived in the Kingdom in the 1980s (Shutterstock)

The Duke of Cambridge has followed in the footsteps of his wife by visiting the ruins of a Roman settlement in Jordan as he continues his tour of the Middle East.

The Prince visited the Jerash archaeological site today and was photographed visiting the same spot his wife is pictured playing in as a four-year-old child. The second in line to the throne was touring the remains of the city when he was presented with a large picture of the Duchess of Cambridge as a child at the same spot with her father, Michael, and younger sister Pippa, some 30 years previously.

William, 36, was joined by Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein, 23, and when he reached the picture, released just before the Cambridges married in 2011, he laughed and told the Crown Prince: 'Michael's looking very smart in his flip-flops. We'll have to bring the kids next time.'

Samia Khouri, director of museums at the Jordan's Department of Antiquities, guided the two princes around the sprawling site during a half-hour tour. She said: 'He was very surprised when he saw the photo he did not expect that. But that's why he was here, because he wanted to take a photo at the same spot where Kate was photographed.'

The Duchess of Cambridge has not accompanied her husband on the trip as she is on maternity leave following the birth of their third child Prince Louis, but her husband told journalists she was 'very upset' to miss the trip to Jordan, where she lived for three years when he father was relocated for work.

The Duke spent last night watching England v Panama on catch up at the home of the Crown Prince of Jordan in Amman, after asking journalists travelling with him on the plane: 'On pain of death, please don't tell me the score!'

Following a relatively relaxed start to the trip, later today Prince William will begin a historic tour of the West Bank - the first-ever official visit by a member of the royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

He will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah at a time of widening rifts between the two sides.

Kensington Palace has underlined the 'non-political nature of His Royal Highness's role - in common with all royal visits overseas', but the region is a minefield of sensitivities.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict typically looms large, even during largely ceremonious visits, and the Duke of Cambridge will have to maneuver carefully to avoid missteps.

Last week, an Israeli Cabinet minister complained about the royal itinerary's reference to Jerusalem as part of the 'Occupied Palestinian Territories,' calling it a 'distortion of reality'.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians claimed the trip was an 'indirect apology' for Britain's role in the region, reports The Telegraph.

Today he toured the ruins of the Roman city of Jerash and met with children, including Syrian refugees, from a U.N.-run education program on the second day of a five-day tour of the Middle East.

The children greeted the prince in the amphitheater of the Roman city of Jerash, where they showed him some of their art work.

At a reception at the British Embassy in Amman last night, Prince William praised the 'historic ties and friendship' between Britain and Jordan and revealed that his wife the Duchess of Cambridge spent almost three years in Jordan as a child when her father worked there for British Airways.

 

 

Kate's family moved to Jordan in May 1984 when she was aged two and her sister Pippa was just eight months old. She went to an English language nursery while her parents were in the country for almost three years, before they returned to Berkshire in 1986.

The Duke said she was 'very sorry' that she was not able to join him on the trip so soon after the April birth of their son Louis, later gushing about how much she 'loved' living in Jordan as a child.

William met Rania Malki, chief executive of Save The Children in Jordan, during the evening reception at the British Embassy.

The charity boss said she knew the house where the Duchess lived while she was in Jordan because it is now the home of her children's paediatrician.

'No way!' the duke replied. 'She will be thrilled. She loved it here, she really did. She is very upset that I am coming here without her.'

Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in a move not internationally recognised.

Israel considers the eastern sector, home to sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, as an inseparable part of its capital. Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope will also include the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said she welcomes William's visit to the West Bank as a chance to see Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation first hand. 'This visit is the first of its kind and represents an opportunity to enhance relations between Prince William and the Palestinian people on all the levels,' she said.

William is visiting a region where three decades of British rule between the two world wars helped establish some of the fault lines of today's Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Britain's withdrawal from the region after World War II led to the eventual establishment of Israel and Jordan.

Jordan's ruling Hashemite dynasty has strong ties to Britain. The second marriage of the late King Hussein was to a British citizen, Antoinette Gardiner, who took the title Princess Muna and is the mother of the current monarch, King Abdullah II. 

Hussein, Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein all attended Sandhurst, the British military academy, as did William.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: 'The historic nature of this tour is of course important and the duke considers it a great privilege to be undertaking the first ever official royal tour of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to be able to help further strengthen the friendship between Jordan and the United Kingdom.'     

The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington's embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and deadly clashes.

 But diplomatic sources say it is 'about time' the trip went ahead and hope it will pave the way for further visits.

This morning he visited Jerash, which lies on a plain surrounded by woodland and fertile basins and has been inhabited for more than 6,500 years.

Its imposing ceremonial gates, colonnades, soaring temples and theatres all date back to 63 BC, when it was conquered by General Pompey.

Under Roman rule Jerash - then known as Gerasa - enjoyed something of a golden age with wide, paved avenues, handsome theatres and public squares, plazas, baths and fountains.

He has two further engagements in Amman today before flying to to Israel this afternoon.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

You may also like