Concluding a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Prince William traveled Thursday morning to the Mount of Olives for a lookout of the Old City of Jerusalem.
He then visited the nearby gravesite of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who saved Jews in the Holocaust and whose last wishes were to have her remains buried in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene above the Garden of Gethsemane.
The prince stood solemnly by his great-grandmother’s grave, accompanied by a Russian Orthodox clergyman. He was then given several gifts by the clergy, including a bouquet of flowers and a cross. With the homage, William followed in the footsteps of his father Charles, the Prince of Wales, and grandfather Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had also visited Princess Alice’s grave.
He then headed to the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall.
At the Western Wall, he was accompanied by the site’s rabbi and security guards as he approached the wall. Donning a black skullcap, he placed his right hand on the ancient stones and then, following tradition, slipped a note inside its cracks.
He signed the guestbook with the following passage: “May the God of peace bless this region and all the world with peace.”
“Today we experienced a moment of history which will live long in the memory of Jews around the world,” said the Chief Rabbi of Britain Ephraim Mirvis, who accompanied the prince in his visit. “The Western Wall stands at the epicenter of our faith. To see the future monarch come to pay his respects was a remarkable gesture of friendship and a sign of the duke’s regard for the sanctity of Jerusalem.”
Crowds of onlookers followed his every move as the prince made his way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre shortly after.
The Duke of Cambridge will fly back to London from Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, William visited the Jalazoun refugee camp in the West Bank and told Palestinians they had not been forgotten and that his trip to the West Bank was a “very powerful one.”
“It has been a very powerful experience to meet you and other Palestinians in the West Bank and to hear your stories,” the prince said in a speech at a garden party at the British Consulate General in Jerusalem.
“I hope that through my being here and understanding the challenges you face, the links of friendship and mutual respect between the Palestinian and British people can grow stronger.”
The Duke of Cambridge was welcomed by an honor guard in Ramallah as he turned his attention to the Palestinians on the second day of his swing through the Holy Land. It is the first official visit to the area by a member of the royal family.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the prince and the British people to support the Palestinian campaign for independence.
Earlier Wednesday, William began the day by strolling down Tel Aviv’s trendy Rothschild Boulevard and meeting young artists and entrepreneurs in Israel’s cultural and financial capital.
Wearing a beige summer blazer, light blue shirt, blue pants and brown suede loafers, he met Netta Barzilai, winner of this year’s Eurovision song contest, and had a cold drink at one of the famous kiosks along the boulevard named after the late 19th-century British-Jewish banker and philanthropist who contributed greatly to the Jewish community in the Holy Land.
On Tuesday, he attended a soccer match of young Jewish and Arab players and hit the beach before going to the reception the British ambassador held in his honor that included demonstrations by Israeli tech startups and a collection of Israeli celebrities, politicians and other public figures.
For the 36-year-old William, it marks a high-profile visit that could burnish his international credentials. He met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and paid an emotional visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on Tuesday.
By Itamar Eichner, Elior Levy, Yishai Porat, Ynet News. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.