Duke of Cambridge begins historic Middle East trip with visit to Jordan
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Duke of Cambridge begins historic Middle East trip with visit to Jordan

William met by Crown Prince of Jordan in Amaan where he greets crowds with Arabic, before he heads to the Jewish state this week

The Duke of Cambridge, with the Crown Prince of Jordan (right), after arriving at Marka Airport, Amman, Jordan at the start of his Middle East tour. 

Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Duke of Cambridge, with the Crown Prince of Jordan (right), after arriving at Marka Airport, Amman, Jordan at the start of his Middle East tour. Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Prince William has hailed Jordan’s decision to give refuge to more than 600,000 fleeing war in Syria – as well as Palestinian refugees – as “remarkable”.

The Duke of Cambridge was speaking at a birthday party for the Queen at the residence of Britain’s ambassador in Jordan, at the end of the first day of his Middle East tour.

In a speech punctuated by greetings in Arabic, he said: “The way in which you opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, not to mention your longstanding commitments to Palestinian refugees, is remarkable. You should be enormously proud of what you have done. In so many ways, Jordan as an open and stable society is a beacon of hope for many other people in the Middle East.”

The second in line to the throne spoke of the long-standing bonds between the two Royal families which he vowed to continue to strengthen, and said the UK “treasures enormously” links between the countries militaries. “From the Great Arab Revolt of 1917 to the battle against Da’esh today, our Armed Forces and security organisations have stood, and will continue to stand, side-by-side against shared threats and in defence of shared values,” he said.

He also read a message from The Queen in which she hailed Jordan as “a staunch and long -held friend”.

 

The Duke heaped praise on the “inspirational” young people involved in projects with the Crown Prince Foundation including a technology demonstration at FabLab. There, the Aston Villa fan was asked to start up a laser cutter which produced his club’s crest on a wooden shield – to the delight of the royal.

Earlier, he was greeted at Marka Airport by Crown Prince Al Hussein, a fellow graduate of Sandhurst. He had told reporters on route from London not to give away the result of England’s clash with Panama as he would watch it that night with his Jordanian royal host.

The visit will also see HRH meet young participants including refugees in the Makani programme at Jerash, a first century Roman city that is one of the largest Roman remains anywhere in the Mediterranean. It is 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 for three years.

The Duke of Cambridge in Amman, Jordan at the start of his Middle East tour.
Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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.

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

The visit is the first leg of a historic tour that will see him travel tomorrow to Israel and then to the Palestinian Territories – the first official Royal visit to that part of the world.

After 70 years without such a visit, officials no longer saw a reason to continue avoiding the visit, realising there would never be a perfect moment. The visit is likely to put renewed focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue but every sinew has been strained to ensure a balanced approach. In moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, Donald Trump was seen as taking a one-sided approach.

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