Just a year ago the British ambassador stated there would be no official state visit by a member of the British royal family until there was peace, but if reports in last week's Jewish Chronicle are true, Prince Edward is not risking the wait.
The Earl of Wessex, as the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II is formally known, will visit Israel in September following an invitation by the Israel Youth Award organization, according to the report in the London Jewish weekly.
The group for Jewish and Arab youth encourages community service and physical activities, and is affiliated with the Duke of Edinburgh's international award scheme. As Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has got older, his youngest son and seventh in line to the throne, Prince Edward, has taken on several of his roles, including supporting the award scheme.
Until now, no member of the British royal family has paid an official visit to Israel, although two unofficial visits have taken place. In 1994, Prince Philip took part in a ceremony at Yad Vashem honoring his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who hid a Jewish family during the Holocaust. The following year Prince Charles attended Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.
Yesterday a spokeswoman at Buckingham Palace told Haaretz that the Royal diary of engagements was only announced two months in advance. "We do not comment on speculations," she said.
The prospect of the visit is welcome news here. "It's about time one of the Royal family came," said Brenda Katten, chairwoman of the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association. "They always go to Jordan and other Arab countries. I hope more senior members of the family will follow suit."
During her reign of more than five decades, the Queen has undertaken over 256 official overseas visits to 129 different countries, including Jordan in 1984.
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