His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge will visit Jordan, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories from Sunday 24th June until Thursday 28th June at the request of Her Majesty’s Government. The visit will be The Duke’s first to the region.
In Jordan, His Royal Highness will be able to build on the strong links that exist not only between the two countries, but also between their respective Royal families who have visited each other many times over the years. In Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the visit will be the first official tour on behalf of the Government by a Member of The Royal Family.
The complex challenges in the region are of course well known. The non-political nature of His Royal Highness’s role – in common with all Royal visits overseas –allows a spotlight to be brought to bear on the people of the region: their cultures, their young people, their aspirations, and their experiences.
In cities with storied histories that are never far from the headlines, The Duke’s goal will be to meet as many people from as many walks of life as possible – and to use the spotlight that his visit will bring to celebrate their hopes for the future. During the visit, The Duke will meet young entrepreneurs, view vibrant tech and media sectors, witness historic cultures being protected and interpreted for the 21st century, and meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds – including refugees – with a particular focus on young people.
The Duke will also meet with senior political and religious leaders in all three places, as well as a wide range of people drawn from across business, civil society, the arts and media and other sectors at receptions organised by the UK’s three missions.
Turning to the detail of the programme, His Royal Highness will depart the UK on RAF Voyager on the morning of Sunday 24th, arriving in Amman, Jordan to an official welcome at Marka airport.
He will be greeted by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al-Hussein Bin Abdullah II. The Duke is very pleased that this visit will allow him to begin a relationship with the Crown Prince Hussein that will be important in the decades to come. Their Royal Highnesses will then visit Fablab, an initiative of the Crown Prince Foundation that seeks to equip young entrepreneurs with the technology they need to realise their ambitions.
That evening The Duke will meet people from across Jordanian society and deliver a speech at a Queen’s Birthday Party at the residence of Her Majesty’s Ambassador, before departing for a private dinner with the Crown Prince Hussein at Beit al Urden, the King’s private residence, where The Duke is honoured to stay overnight.
The morning of the 25th will begin with a visit to the spectacular archaeological site at Jerash, a first century Roman city that is one of the largest Roman remains anywhere in the Mediterranean region, and one of Jordan’s greatest tourist attractions. It is, by the way, the site where the young Catherine Middleton is pictured standing on a pile of stones with her father and young sister when the Middleton family lived in Jordan.
The site will host a celebration for young people benefiting from the Makani programme supported by UNICEF. Makani is a nationwide charity that works with young people from deprived backgrounds, but especially those from refugee communities.
As you know, there has been unrest in the Middle East for decades, most recently in Syria, and consequently the country of Jordan is hosting over 655,000 refugees – a staggering act of generosity and humanitarianism for a country with a population of 9.5 million. Jordan has a range of programmes to help refugees to integrate and to find work and shelter, and Makani is one of the leading organisations in this field.
Through interacting with young people brought together by Makani from across communities in Jordan, The Duke will hear about the lives, challenges and hopes of these young people.
His Royal Highness will then travel to the north of the country to visit a new base for the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which has been formed with British military support.
The Duke will witness the QRF practicing pre-deployment drills and will also meet British officers on attachment to the Jordanian armed forces. The UK and Jordanian Government cooperate closely on security, and this meeting will pay tribute to this.
The Duke will then visit the Dar Na’mah Centre – a project of the Princess Taghrid Institute (PTI). The institute is a charity set up by Princess Taghrid to support women of all ages to develop their own livelihoods and thereby support their families and communities.
His Royal Highness will meet with women who have built the centre, try some of their traditional food, and watch them make crafts. He will also meet with a group of young orphaned women who have been supported by PTI to develop skills and complete their educations.
That afternoon The Duke will get to meet with a number of young Jordanians and Syrian refugees who are developing skills to compete in the modern economy when he visits Al Quds College back in Amman.
Among the students His Royal Highness will meet will be those who are enrolled in the media school there, training in film and music production as part of the College’s partnership with Middlesex University. It is an incredibly vibrant place that will give The Duke a sense of the optimism and ambition of Jordan’s young people.
The Duke will complete his visit to Jordan back at Marka airport where he will meet with crew involved in the Jordanian Air Ambulance, and will be able to look over their helicopters. His Royal Highness will then depart for Israel and the next leg of the trip.
His Royal Highness will arrive in Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, before travelling to Jerusalem’s historic King David Hotel, where he will stay for the remainder of the trip.
The Duke’s first engagement in Israel, on the morning of the 26th, will see him visit Yad Vashem – Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. You will recall that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Stutthof concentration camp last year, as well as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin – so this visit will be immensely poignant.
His Royal Highness will receive a short tour of the museum before meeting with a survivor of the Holocaust and the Kindertransport who will share their personal experiences with him.
He will then walk to Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance where he will lay a wreath in memory of those who died, and will leave a personal message in the visitor’s book before departing. The Duke will be accompanied by the British Chief Rabbi during the ceremony.
The Duke will then travel to the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he will be welcomed to Israel by the Prime Minister and his wife. He will then have a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at his residence.
The Duke will then travel to the historic city of Jaffa where he will meet with young people involved in the work of two organisations focused on co-existence between the young people of different religious and ethnic communities – the Equaliser and the Peres Centre for Peace. He will arrive at a football event hosted by the two charities and will have a chance to spend time with children and teenagers involved in several of their projects, including one focused on empowering young women.
His Royal Highness will then travel to central Tel Aviv for an event that will be announced during the visit.
That evening The Duke will speak at a reception at the residence of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Israel before returning to Jerusalem.
The next morning of the 27th will begin back in Tel Aviv, with a visit that we are really looking forward to, but will not be announcing in advance. The second engagement will be at the Beit Ha’ir Museum in the newly renovated Old City Hall of Tel Aviv. The museum is designed to be an open house for artists, writers and scholars. On arrival, The Duke will attend a tech innovation demo where he will meet four start-up companies and hear the story behind their products. The Duke will then attend a civil society reception, meeting groups of young people engaged in the fields of youth activism, social impact and the environment.
From here, the programme will shift to its next leg – the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Duke will travel to Ramallah where he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting will take place at the President’s office.
The rest of the afternoon’s programme in the West Bank will include events that focus on the issues facing refugee communities; opportunities to celebrate Palestinian culture, music and food; and a chance to meet a number of young Palestinians. Full details will be announced during the visit.
That evening The Duke will give his final speech of the tour when he attends a reception at the residence of the Consul General in Jerusalem.
The next day’s programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will begin with a short briefing on the history and geography of Jerusalem's Old City from a viewing point at the Mount of Olives. From here His Royal Highness will travel a short distance to the Church of St Mary Magdalene where he will pay his respects at the tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice.
Both The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales have made previous visits here. The rest of the programme for the day will be announced at a later date, but will allow His Royal Highness to understand and pay respect to the religions and history of the region.
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. More importantly, however, The Duke is looking forward to building a real and enduring relationship with the people of the region.
In particular he is pleased that his programme will allow him to meet a number of people from his own generation and young Jordanians, Israelis, and Palestinians. His Royal Highness is looking forward to learning about their unique perspectives, but also their shared ambitions and hopes for the future.