It’s official – Prince Charles will travel to Israel next month in the second Royal visit in two years, Clarence House said on Wednesday.
Both the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend events related to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, joining other world leaders such as the presidents of Russia and France.
Charles will travel to Israel to meet both Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, then on to the West Bank to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after attending the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem on 23 January at Rivlin’s invitation.
Meanwhile, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, the Duchess will attend commemorations in Poland at the site of the former death camp, meeting survivors.
Confirmation this week followed a period of intense speculation, when officials tight-lipped despite clearly brimming with excitement.
Britain’s new Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan had already joked that his tenure would be deemed a failure if he did not secure a second Royal visit, after the popularity of Prince William’s visit last year.
Reacting to the news this week, Wigan said he was “delighted” that Charles accepted Rivlin’s invitation, adding: “Prince Charles has visited Israel twice in the past, and I am pleased that this time he will get to see a bit more of Israel.”
Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the World Holocaust Forum, said: “It is a great honour for us that Prince Charles will be attending the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem in January,”
“Prince Charles is a figure of strong moral authority and has long been recognised as a leading voice against intolerance, hate and antisemitism.”
“That Prince Charles has chosen to attend our unprecedented conference on Holocaust remembrance and against antisemitism on his first official visit to Israel speaks volumes.”
The heir to the throne visited Jerusalem in 2016 and 1995, to attend the funerals of President Shimon and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin respectively, but this visit will be his first programme of engagements in Israel or the Palestinian territories.
Royal observers say it is no surprise that Charles and Camilla accepted the official invite to represent the UK next month, given their record on Holocaust commemoration and education.
In 2015, Charles marked 70 years since the camp’s liberation in London, in 2016 Camilla visited the Holocaust Survivors Centre in London, and in 2017 Charles became patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, hosting a reception at St James’s Palace for survivors.
Later that year the couple visited the Jewish Museum in Vienna and in 2018 Charles attended a reception to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, where he met members of the Association of Jewish Refugees.