Netta’s Royal ‘Toy’ boy! Eurovision winner meets Prince William in Tel Aviv
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Netta’s Royal ‘Toy’ boy! Eurovision winner meets Prince William in Tel Aviv

Israel singing sensation who stormed to victory at the Eurovision Song Contest in May greeted the Duke of Cambridge on the third day of his trip to the Jewish state

There aren’t many people that could bring thousands on to the streets of Israel and literally stop traffic quite like Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai at the moment.

But Prince William is certainly one of them. Bring together the Queen of Israeli pop culture and the future king of England and you have a heady cocktail of celebrity sure to turn heads of even the most royal-sceptic Israeli.

Their double act was the royal visit’s worst kept secret. By the time the Toy singer arrived, the crowds swelled to more than 2,000, with others hanging out of buildings and cafes to catch a glimpse. The volume of chants of their hero’s name was dwarfed only by the shouts of ‘William, we love you’ when he arrived to greet her moments later.

Among those waiting behind security barriers was Eliran Goldstein from Tel Aviv with a group of friends. The 32-year-old, wearing a Union Jack t-shirt, said: “Netta is like our royalty but it’s not the same. I’m a huge fan of the royal family. I love history and British history and there’s so much British history here. It’s nice to be acknowledged and if it’s from people you like and adore it means more.”

Surrounded by crowds five or six deep on all sides, William and Netta enjoyed a sparkling cherry water drink at the oldest kiosk in Tel Aviv. One lucky mother Yael and her six-week son Alon – who was born days apart from Prince Louis – were quietly enjoying a drink there before the balagan unfolded and were surprised to be allowed to remain in the large cordoned-off area along with media and officials. Her sister Yifat said HRH surpassed all her expectations. “I shook his hand and I left the universe,” she said. “He’s relaxed and I felt very comfortable. He’s a very impressive person.”

Jerusalem – where the Prince was based for three nights of his historic Middle East tour – also rolled out the red carpet with British flags lining streets, while a large chemist saw an advertising opportunity, unveiling a giant poster for suncream, proclaiming: ‘Dear prince William , the British sun is nothing like the Israeli sun’.

But it was the joyous scenes of the dress-down Duke at Tel Aviv’s Frishman beach that will provide one of the enduring images – for those present and for tourism – of the Israel leg. For more than half an hour, he was greeted like a rock star, shaking hands with the crowds and trying his hand at footvolley.

As a section of the famous beach was closed off, among those with a front row view was Dalia Black-Doobov and her three young children Ella, Ziv and Micha, who has been following the visit in the media since his historic touch down. The family caught the eye of the prince, who bent down to speak to the children. Black-Doobov, who made aliyah 17 years ago, said: “He was really excited. He said the city and beach is great and he wished he’d brought his swimming trunks.”

He also scaled a lifeguard tower-turned hotel with Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai, before emerging down the steps to screams of his name from bikini-clad revellers in the sea.

He watched members of the Israeli Footvolley Association in action, telling team members: “You guys deserve a serious round of applause. I wish I could do that. I can head.” He added “I’m not feeling so young right now.” But he delighted onlookers with a successful kick at the first time of trying. He said: “Just don’t ask me to do the shark attack. Next time come back I’ll do it.”

Gal Hofu Levi said his support was a “dream come true” that would be a wonderful boost to the sport. He said Tel Aviv had likely never seen such an event, adding: “It’s great respect for Israel to have him here. We’re still a new country. Everyone is super happy.” He also suggested Israelis have “a lot to learn” from the British

We have a lot to learn from the British in terms of “more respect and patient because the situation we grew up is intense”.

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