(JTA) — Prince Charles of Britain will not be visiting Israel, despite media reports citing senior officials saying he would, according to a London newspaper.
Charles, the heir to the throne, would have been the first member of the royal family to make an official state visit to Israel since its founding.
“Her Majesty’s Government makes decisions on Royal Visits based on recommendations from the Royal Visits Committee, taking into account advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said in a statement. “The Committee never proposed a royal visit to Israel for 2017. Plans for 2018 will be announced in due course.“
The British tabloid The Sun reported Sunday that the decision made by the Foreign Office may have been taken to avoid upsetting Arab nations in the region.
Though the visit was not officially announced, senior officials had been cited in the British and Israeli media in recent weeks saying that Charles or another member of the royal family would travel to Israel to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which stated the British government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin extended an invitation for a royal state visit to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at a meeting in Jerusalem earlier this year. The Sun reported that the invitation never officially reached the royal family.
In October, Charles made a private trip to Israel to attend the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. While there he visited, in secret, the grave of his grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who is buried in the Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives. She died in 1969 in London and was transferred to a crypt in the church in 1988 in accordance with her wishes.
In general, the British royal family refrains from official visits to Israel except for state funerals; it does not recognize eastern Jerusalem as part of Israel. The few royal visits to Israel have been defined as private. Prince Philip visited in 1994 for a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial to honor his mother. Prior to the ceremony, Philip and his sister, Princess Sophie, visited their mother’s coffin.