As the world prepares to mark the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, 2018 is promising to be a very special royal year for the Israeli public too. Prince William will pay the first official royal visit to Israel this summer, in the very same year as we celebrate seven decades of independence.
Last year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp, demonstrating their solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust. Prince William’s great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenburg is buried in Jerusalem, at a convent on the Mount of Olives. She has been honoured with the title of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by Yad Vashem for her role in sheltering a Jewish family in Athens during the Second World War.
The royal visit will not only mark the past, but also celebrate the present and embrace the future, providing an opportunity to highlight the strong cooperation between Israel and the United Kingdom.
Our economic partnership has blossomed, reaching a record £6.9 billion in bilateral trade in 2017: an incredible 25% year-on-year increase, demonstrating the energy and momentum of our relationship. Whether it is the one in seven NHS medicines supplied by Israeli companies, the over 300 Israeli businesses with operations in the UK, or the 29 Israeli firms listed on the London Stock Exchange, this remarkable growth is undoubtedly creating jobs and prosperity in both our countries.
The royal visit will take place against the backdrop of high-level cooperation between our two governments on a range of key national security issues, including counterterrorism and cybersecurity. This is making the citizens of both our countries safer and more secure, and is saving lives.
The Israeli people are genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity of seeing the Prince in real life, rather than simply on the television or internet. Without a royal family of our own since Biblical times, I would venture to suggest that the people of Israel hold feelings of fascination and affection towards the British monarchy: feelings that will be clearly expressed during the visit this summer.
Israel looks forward to rolling out the red carpet for Prince William, and giving him a very warm welcome. The Duke of Cambridge’s visit demonstrates the close partnership between our two democracies, and we hope that his busy schedule will allow him to experience the spirit of the Israeli people, and witness our energetic, vibrant and diverse country.