March 9, 2017 - Royal visit to celebrate Balfour Declaration
The first official state visit to Israel by a member of the royal family will take place this year, according to British media reports. It would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration. Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel, extended the invitation via British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was in Israel in early March.
There has been speculation over the years regarding the reason the royal family has turned down all previous invitations for an official a state visit. Some members of the Queen’s family have visited Israel, to attend state funerals and other ceremonies, however.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, attended the funeral of Shimon Peres on Mt. Herzl in 2016. On that visit he also went to the Mount of Olives, to pay his respects at the grave of his paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who has been recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, and at the grave of his father’s great-aunt, the Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia. It is not known if Prince Charles will represent his mother, who will turn 91 in April, on the state visit. No official announcement of the visit yet been made.
British critics of Israel have denounced both the idea of the royal visit and the commemoration of the Balfour Declaration, which proclaimed support for the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland in what was then still part of the Ottoman Empire. As well, many supporters of Israel have criticized Britain over the past 100 years for not living up to the commitments made in the Declaration and subsequent international agreements.
Editor's Note: Although this visit has been widely reported in the media, it has not been "officially confirmed".