Newly-crowned King Charles III expresses interest in making official visit to Jewish state
No date is set yet but Israeli President Herzog is reportedly involved in the preparations for the British monarch's historic trip
The United Kingdom’s freshly-crowned King Charles III reportedly expressed interest in visiting the State of Israel, which would make him the first sitting British monarch to pay an official visit to the Jewish state.
Despite the royal family having cultivated amicable ties with the Jewish community in Great Britain, the late Queen Elizabeth never stepped foot on Israeli soil.
Various members of the royal family have paid several unofficial visits to Israel over the years. In 1984, Prince Philip arrived in Israel to honor his late mother, Princess Alice, who is buried at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In addition, Charles himself, as Prince of Wales, attended the funerals of two former Israeli prime ministers – Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1995 and 2016, respectively.
The royal family's decades-long policy to not visit Israel had reportedly disturbed Israeli and Jewish politicians and public figures, especially because Queen Elizabeth was considered an avid traveler, making trips to more than 120 countries during her reign, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East region. The official reason given by the United Kingdom has been that official visits to the Jewish state by the royal family should not be permitted to take place while the Arab-Israeli conflict persists.
For many years, Israel believed the Queen's refusal to visit the Jewish state stemmed from Britain's fear of Arab boycotts. However, the Queen continued to decline Israel's invitations to the Holy Land even after several Arab countries made peace with Israel via the historic Abraham Accords in 2020.
In 2015, Britain's national newspaper, The Telegraph, quoted an anonymous British government official who stated: "Until there is a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the royal family can't really go there." According to the official, it was best to avoid visiting Israel altogether because of complexities surrounding the often intense political situation.
Even so, many British leaders, including prime ministers, have continued to make trips to the Jewish state, even in recent years.
The first-ever official visit to Israel by a British Royal Family member took place in 2018, when Prince William made an unprecedented official visit, which ended the unofficial boycott. In 2020, then-Prince Charles traveled to Israel to officially participate in the World Holocaust Forum, marking 75 years of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Just one week following the crowning of King Charles, the British Daily Mail on Sunday quoted a source as saying in recent years, the British monarch made it clear he had no reservations about visiting Israel even in his new role as King of Great Britain.
Lord Stuart Polak, former director of the Conservative Friends of Israel, confirmed that preparations for the king's official visit to Israel are already underway.
Polak, who served as CFI's director for 25 years, confirmed that Queen Elizabeth regretted not traveling to the Jewish state for fear of upsetting the Arab world.
"There is no doubt that Charles will be the one to break this pattern. His team has already made the necessary preparations to pave the way for this visit," Polak said.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog is believed to be involved in preparations for King Charles to make an official visit the Holy Land. The date was not yet set, likely due to the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip, culminating in a 5-day conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. During those five days, PIJ terrorist reportedly fired more than 1,400 rockets toward Israel from Gaza during the ensuing Israeli military initiative, Operation Shield and Arrow.
Herzog has maintained good relations with the British royal family since taking office. He attended at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral last year on behalf of the State of Israel and on May 6, he and his wife Michal attended Charles' coronation ceremony.
According to reports, Charles will also meet with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank while in Israel, in an effort to avoid international criticism and creating diplomatic tensions.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.