Meet the man who welcomed Prince William to Israel with tea and scones!

Meet the man who welcomed Prince William to Israel with tea and scones!

The Director of Operations at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Sheldon Ritz, reflects on the the challenge and honour of hosting the Duke of Cambridge this week!

By Sheldon Ritz, director of operations at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem:

The advance delegation arrives on Friday before the Prince arrives on Sunday. It’s not a large delegation – it’s more comparable to the visit of a European prime minister.

The Prince will take one of the three suites on the top floor, either be the Jerusalem Suite, the Royal Suite or the Presidential Suite, which all face the Old City.

The Prince’s delegation will mainly comprise his aides and assistants, plus security, with journalists all staying at our sister hotel, the Dan Panorama, because they can’t be in the same hotel as the Prince. Security here is very tight.

Everyone who comes in gets screened, the hotel itself is set off the street, and the Prince will look out on to amazing views of the Old City from behind rocket-proof and bullet-proof glass.

We heard that when the Prince goes around the world he likes to try the local delicacies, so I hope he gets to enjoy some Middle Eastern food, like hummus, falafel, shawarma, typical Israeli stuff.

Jerusalem’s famous Machane Yehuda market

We cater to people from all over the world, for example, for Chinese visitors we do sticky rice for breakfast, so we’re going to bring him some very good tea from England, the best we can buy, and we won’t forget the milk!

Also, on his arrival, we’re going to make some scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

We heard that there’s a big debate in England about whether you put the cream or the jam on first, so we’ll leave them to the side and let the Prince decide! 

King David hotel at night

I was invited to the British Embassy a few weeks ago for training for people who were going to be in contact with the Prince, so we could learn the protocol.

So for instance the first time you meet him you say ‘Welcome Your Royal Highness,’ then after that you call him ‘Sir.’

We were told you shouldn’t put your hand out to welcome him – you have to let him initiate the handshake.

Prince William

I’ll be the one going up with him in the elevator, taking him to his suite and explaining how everything works, because it’s pretty high-tech, so I’ll be with him for about ten minutes, but they said I shouldn’t initiate any conversation.

These are the kind of things I have to remember.

It’s a little funny, the idea of asking Israelis not to initiate conversation, but I’m from South Africa originally, part of the Commonwealth, so I should be OK to hold my tongue and not speak unless spoken to!

It’s not often that we have royalty in Israel because we’re not a monarchy, and the visit is very historic as you know, so we’re all very excited.

He’s so well-liked, it’s unbelievable. He’s staying here for three nights, which is quite a long time, and we feel very honoured that the whole time he’s in the region he’s staying with us.

Jerusalem suite salon in King David Hotel

The media attention has been huge, just like when Trump came in May, but for the Prince we haven’t needed to bring in extra staff because it’s a different operation – the Prince’s delegation is taking only around 50 rooms, whereas Trump’s took 1,100 rooms, with all 230 rooms at the King David plus rooms in another 19 hotels.

We’re all very excited.

We have had a lot of experience hosting important people – such as Presidents Bush, Obama and Putin, Angela Merkel, Tony Blair, King Hussein, and of course Prince Charles who stayed twice, but this is definitely up there, it’s definitely unique. I mean, who doesn’t know Prince William?

The luxurious King David Hotel
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