Britain's Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh
Britain's Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, right, is greeted by the Sultan of Oman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, on arrival to Muscat, Oman, Thursday Nov. 25, 2010. Photo by AP
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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II’s consort, has claimed ownership of a famous piece of property in downtown Jerusalem, according to one of the tens of thousands of diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks and published by the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

A cable sent from the United States Embassy in Israel after Russia assumed ownership of the compound known as the Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem in 2008, says that Prince Philip is the actual owner.

The building, which houses government offices and the headquarters of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, is part of Jerusalem’s Russian Compound. It was built in the 19th century as accommodations for Russian pilgrims by Prince Sergei, the son of Czar Alexander II.

During the British Mandate the compound was nationalized, and after the founding of Israel it continued to house government offices. Two years ago, following pressure by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israel transfered ownership of the Sergei Courtyard to the Russian government. The Israeli institutions are now being asked to vacate the premises.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the WikiLeaks document says Prince Philip claims rights to the building based on his family connection to Sergei.

Marriages among European royal stock were once common, and so it is not surprising to find that the only living descendent of the 19th-century Russian prince who gave his name to the Jerusalem building is the 21st-century husband of Britain’s queen.

Tzipi Ron, of the Society for the Protection of Nature, says that a relative Elizaveta Fyodorovna, who was Sergei’s wife, is an ancestor of Philip on his mother’s side.

It is believed that Prince Charles, Philip and Queen Elizabeth’s son, first raised a claim to the property in the 1980s. The WikiLeaks documents now reveal that demands for the property persisted until recently.

However, the British did not intervene in the deal between Israel and Russia, although there were reportedly Israeli officials opposed to the plan who asked the British to voice their objections.